Fylde coast man gutted after pre-paid funeral firm goes bust

A Fylde coast man fears he will be left without a funeral plan after the firm he had been paying into went bust.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 1st April 2022, 4:30 pm
Updated Friday, 1st April 2022, 4:38 pm

Noel Kennedy, 56, a mental health support worker in Blackpool, is one of around 46,000 funeral savers who were blindsided when provider Safer Hands folded earlier this month.

Noel, of Kingfisher Way, Fleetwood, says he had been paying into the plan for three years and had just a couple of payments to go

But he then received a letter from pre-paid funeral firm Safe Hands, informing him they had gone into administration.

Noel Kennedy had paid into a funeral plan over three years when , with two payments to go, the firm went bust.

Sickeningly, he had already shelled out £3,000 and could lose his money as well as having no funeral scheme sorted out.

Now calls are being made for the Government to ensure the savers’ money is guaranteed.

Noel said: “There are a lot of people who just want to make sure that their families and loved ones don’t have to find the money for their funerals, if they die unexpectedly.

"I thought I was getting my affairs in order but after three years of paying, I could end up with nothing,

Noel Kennedy had paid into a funeral plan over three years when , with two payments to go, the firm went bust.

"I've been in touch with the liquidators, phoned a number, gone online and basically ended up with a load of gobbledygook.

"I wouldn’t like anyone else to have to go through this and I’d like to tell people to be careful when it comes to trying something like this.

"I was gutted when I got that letter.”

Noel planned to speak to his MP, Cat Smith, about the matter but added: “I would like the Government to help but with everything else happening, I’m not so sure.”

Safe Hands collapsed just ahead of a crackdown on the industry by the regulator.

Although a rival firm Dignity, says it will fulfil any funerals for Safe Hands customers who die before April 7, the majority of the others have no guarantee they will get money back.

Many, like Noel, had paid for plans worth more than £3,000.

James Daley, managing director at Fairer Finance, is calling on the Government to ensure plan holders are compensated in full.

He said: “The Government should be doing much more to reassure customers at this uncertain time — including being willing to stand behind anyone who loses out.

'It was a Government decision not to regulate funeral plans back in 2000, and it is the act of introducing regulation today that will potentially crystallise losses for thousands of elderly consumers.”

The market is set to get a lot more stringent for firms operating in the pre-paid funeral business after an investigation found there had been cases of unfair charges and even mis-selling.

After July 29, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will be authorising funeral plan providers and any firm not signed in will have to cease trading.

Martyn James, of complaints site Resolver, also called for the Treasury to back customers, adding: 'Customers believed the money they paid would be protected.'

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) pledged to regulate the sector after the probe’s findings.

From July 29, any funeral plan provider not authorised by the FCA must cease trading.

Safe Hands had applied to the FCA but but then withdrew its application.

An FCA spokesman says: 'We will support the administrators to see whether there is a longer-term solution for Safe Hands' customers.'

Noel, who has a partner in Blackpool and a large extended family in Ireland, added: “It couldn’t have come at a worse time for me personally and I know it is a terrible time for most people.

"With households costs going up, you don’t want tobe told you’ve been shelling out for nothing.

"There are a lot of people struggling out there.”