Tuesday, 01 March 2021 09:30

Glasgow's Golden Charter takes more than 40% of £650 million pre-paid funeral sector for 2015

Scottish funeral plan provider Golden Charter has achieved record sales as the total invested in the pre-paid funeral sector hits a new high of more than £3.8 billion.

More than a million people across the UK are now planning ahead as the costs of a final send-off rise leading to fears that thousands of families are unable to afford funerals.

Golden Charter, based in Glasgow, saw its pre-paid funeral plan sales increase by more than 15,000 across the UK accounting for more than 40% of total sales in the sector during 2015.

Its analysis shows sales of plans by Funeral Planning Authority registered providers grew by nearly a quarter to 183,500 – a rise of more than 36,000 on 2014 – with more than £650 million paid in.

There are now over a million funeral plans in force in the UK, with 88,000 being redeemed last year. With a typical average plan costing £3,550, sales for 2015 were worth £650 million and a total sum equivalent to more than £3.8 billion is now invested in all plans across the sector.

The rapid growth in the sector is being driven by worries about the costs of funding funerals – a current report ** produced for the Scottish Government shows 10% of Scots find it hard to afford a funeral and funeral debt in the UK will rise sharply from the £142 million recorded in 2014.

Customers buying pre-paid plans are protected against inflation and benefit from peace of mind knowing their family won’t have to struggle to pay for their funeral – no matter how far into the future. It is believed that more than 15 percent of UK funerals are now funded by pre-paid plans.

Growth in sales has boosted jobs at Golden Charter – it employs around 400 mainly in Glasgow compared to just 50 in 2009 – and the company plans further expansion into legal services.

Golden Charter Chief Executive Ronnie Wayte said: “Funeral inflation and, sadly, funeral poverty are driving sales of funeral plans as people increasingly decide to plan ahead.

“Independent funeral directors find most enquiries for plans arrive following a family funeral and that is a major reason why sales have shown consistently strong growth since 2006.

“Pre-paid funeral plans allow individuals to specify and to personalise the funeral they want. As a nation we may remain more reticent than other countries to discuss our demise, but we don’t like the idea of bequeathing a debt to our families. The increasing awareness of the receding availability of social policy payments and benefits is bringing this reality home to many.

“People expect choice and quality of service in whatever they do, and there are few more personal purchases than planning your own funeral. Combine this with a straightforward, good value financial proposition and people are increasingly happy to plan ahead.”

Funeral Planning Authority figures account for more than 98% of pre-paid funeral plans taken out in 2015, it is estimated.

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