Funeral costs called into question by consumer affairs minister

Summary

The cost of a funeral in Belgium has increased by more than one-third over the last decade, much more than the cost of inflation

Breach of regulations

Federal consumer affairs minister Kris Peeters has called on the funeral sector to explain a study that has found that two in three funeral directors is not conforming to regulations. The study, carried out by inspectors from his economy ministry, also found that the costs of a funeral had risen by nearly 35% over the last 10 years, far faster than the rate of inflation.

According to the industry federation Uitvaartunie Vlaanderen, the main reason for the increase was taxes imposed by various levels of government, including municipal charges, the cost of concessions and taxes for energy and environment. Consumers are also becoming more demanding, leading to additional costs, the organisation said.

Most of the irregularities found by economic inspectors concerned transparency in pricing. In some cases, the final total price did not even appear on the invoice, and Peeters has called for costs to be clearly displayed, even on funeral parlours’ windows.

“I understand that a list of tariffs is not the first concern of someone calling on an undertaker,” he said. “But it is important for relatives to get a clear picture of the services and how much they cost.”

Other problems discovered included undertakers offering credit terms illegally and transactions in cash in breach of money-laundering laws.

Photo: Ingimage