* CMA still has serious concerns about funerals sector
* Watchdog details remedies for sector
* Dignity says it supports the report’s conclusions (Adds comment from Dignity and analysts)
Dec 18 (Reuters) - Britain’s competition watchdog said on Friday it still has serious concerns about the lack of transparency in the funeral sector and may consider conducting another investigation when conditions surrounding the coronavirus crisis are more stable.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation into the sector in March last year, focusing on funeral directors and crematoria services, after a 2018 market study revealed high prices were charged, taking advantage of grieving families.
The authority reiterated that it was unable to impose price controls on the sector due to the pandemic, but provided further recommendations including the establishment of a regulatory regime to monitor the sector.
Dignity, which owns about 800 funeral locations and operates 46 crematoria in Britain, said it supported the report’s conclusions.
“In the months ahead, we look forward to working with the regulator and the government to ensure the package of remedies work for consumers, and that they are implemented effectively across the market,” Dignity Chairman Clive Whiley said.
The company conducted more funerals due to the pandemic but has stopped providing church services or limousines for mourners and is operating with limitations, such as fewer funeral attendees.
“The CMA will be keeping a close eye on this sector to make sure our remedies are properly implemented,” CMA Panel Inquiry Chair Martin Coleman said.
The regulator added that customers must be provided pricing information before they commit to a service, and that practices such as offering incentives to hospitals, care homes or hospices referring customers to a particular funeral director will be prohibited.
“It does not see the market as acting effectively with muted competition at a time of significant distress for purchasers,” Peel Hunt analysts said of the CMA.
“This is all as expected, but is an important reminder that this issue is not going away.” (Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Karishma Singh)