More upset for the funeral industry today with The Times reporting on grieving families left complaining over rushed ‘conveyor belt’ style cremation services, with no time to grieve. Distress only added to by seeing the arrival or departure of other mourners, there to attend funeral services also scheduled around that time.
Demand on crematoriums is high, however with cremation services now accounting for 77% of funerals and a decline in the number of religious church funeral services, how long should a cremation funeral take?
Should we be calling for change in the service we should expect from out local crematorium?
What is the current cremation process?
Currently across the UK you can expect a cremation service to last for approximately half and hour. At many crematoriums, this 30 minutes isn’t just the funeral service time though; it’s also time allowed for mourners arriving and leaving the chapel.
More specifically of the 292 crematoriums across Britain, 19% offer cremation services of 30 minutes; 17% offer 40 minutes, 38% have time slots of 45 minutes and 25% offer an hour which is the equivalent time an average funeral service in a church would take.
If required families can extend the length of time allowed for the cremation service however many people are unaware of this. Most crematoriums offer the option to either extend the funeral service time by 15 or so minutes whilst others offer ‘double slots’, however both options carry additional fees adding to the overall funeral cost.
So is the time allowed for the current cremation process long enough?
What did The Times report say?
The Times reports on the findings of an independent survey funded by Dignity funeral plan and funeral planning services provider, centred on 2,022 who have experienced arranging a funeral in the last 3 years.
More than a third (36%) of those surveyed said that they felt as though the were rushed through the chapel as though on a conveyor belt having to make way for the next service, with 29% adding that they did not feel as though they had enough time at the crematorium.
The report goes on to say what fuelled this feeling of rushed was seeing other families and mourners attending and leaving the crematorium for other funeral services, attributed to by the shorter time slots or crematoriums with multiple chapels.
Interestingly 106 funeral directors who were also surveyed about time slots for cremations said on average, an appropriate length of time would be 54 minutes.
Why is a survey on cremation funeral services important?
With the current focus on UK funeral services and funeral plans, this report highlighting the upset felt by bereft families, aggrieved at being herded through the crematorium is timely. Both the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Treasury recently announced reviews on funeral costs and prepaid funeral plans sold in the UK, so if an overhaul is also required on the actual funeral service itself, now is the time for people to shout about it.
For the good of change, UK Funeral Planning Specialist Dignity has again raised its head above the parapet in order to drive reform in the industry. Having previously funded the independent Funeral Plan Report conducted by Fairer Finance that helped influence the CMA and Treasury to get involved in ‘cleaning up’ the funeral market place’, Dignity also want families to experience a more dignified and caring service at the crematorium. In fact of the 46 Crematoriums Dignity currently run, over a third have cremation service time slots of 45 minutes with the remainder offering an hour.
Spokesman for Dignity, Simon Cox, the company’s Head of Insight said they were “calling for a minimum funeral service length of 45 minutes in a submission to the Competition and Markets Authority, which has opened an investigation into fees and services in the sector.”
The CMA and Treasury funeral costs and funeral plan reviews are expected to take a year, with an interim report due after 6 months highlighting findings to date and potential remedies, so I wouldn’t be surprised if other areas are exposed as requiring change over coming months.