We are pleased to announce we have now helped over 6,000 people through our Down to Earth helpline service which helps people struggling with funeral costs.
The average basic funeral cost more than £4,000 in 2021, and so many people struggle to pay funeral costs and can be pushed into debt as a result.
Our helpline team talks through options to help avoid this, such as available grants and benefit payments and ways of reducing costs, including inexpensive ways to make funerals more meaningful.
We also provide information and resources online and training to other frontline professionals so that more people can benefit from our knowledge.
We can measure the number of people helped but there are things we can’t measure – like the sense of relief and reassurance when we help people find a way forward to access a meaningful and more affordable funeral, and the time given back to spend on proper grieving, not worrying about expenses. These are all experiences reported by the people we help and why it is so important our service exists.
The future of Down to Earth
We’ve achieved a lot since setting up Down to Earth in 2010.
We successfully lobbied for funeral directors to have clear and transparent pricing on their websites, as these costs were often hidden, through our Fair Funerals pledge and campaign. This paved the way for the Competition and Markets Authority investigation which made it a legal requirement in 2021 that all funeral directors show clear costs on their websites and in branch, so consumers can make an informed choice.
However, we have so much work still to do in tackling funeral poverty and inequality.
As well as regularly reporting funeral directors not compliant with the new legal requirement, we have recently asked bereaved people and funeral professionals what they think the sector needs now. We had a huge response of over 400 people to our surveys and are now analysing the results, so we’re confident that our next intervention will be driven by what people need.
In the meantime, we are reaching even more people by running a free online event to help people plan for a meaningful and more affordable funeral, as well as providing another of our regular training workshops for frontline professionals.