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New report condemns cost of funeral services in France

The high cost of cremation or burial in France has been criticised by national administrative court, La Cour des Comptes, with the average price of a cremation now €3,600, and €3,350 for a burial.

In its annual report, published this week, the court criticised the funeral services industry, saying that prices had not dropped despite its opening to competitors 25 years ago.

Added to the baseline costs are prices for transport by hearse, and any other necessary fees.

Over 600,000 people require the services of funeral directors every year in France, but is difficult for consumers to find definite prices for services and to compare offers between funeral directors, the report said, because most fail to give standard estimates.

It added that opening the industry to competitors 25 years’ ago had appeared to benefit funeral directors only, and not grieving families.

The criticism comes as the number of families opting for a cremation continues to rise in France.

One third of people who die are now cremated, despite there being a lack of crematoria across the country. There are none at all in the Cantal, Lot, Haute-Marne or Mayotte; and just one apiece in the Bas-Rhin, Yvelines, and the Haute-Garonne.

In France, the legal limit for burial or cremation after a death is just six days. This added pressure on crematoria and families has not helped to lower costs, the report said.

In response, La Cour des Comptes suggested that this six-day limit be extended to give crematoria more time to work through the backlog. This would also give families more time and space to choose funeral services, at a time when they are likely to be most vulnerable.

For comparison, the time limit for burial or cremation in Germany and the UK is 14 days after the death, provided that body conservation services have been properly carried out.

In Sweden, the legal time limit is one month.

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