Number of deaths could fall by 30,000 in 2017, according to Dignity forecasts. The company is urging the government to start regulating sector.
Historical data used to predict the number of deaths per year:
According to one of Britain’s biggest funeral providers, a big fall is expected in the number of people dying in the UK this year,
Dignity, the only funeral company listed on the stock exchange, had its shares fall by 11% on Wednesday after revealing it was facing greater competition as new firms entered the unregulated sector.
In line with long-term trends, the number of deaths could fall by about 7% to 550,000 this year, the funeral service provider suggested, following an unusually high number of deaths of about 590,000 in both 2015 and 2016.
The group, which provides funerals and operates crematoria, said that historical data suggest that deaths in 2017 could be significantly lower than 2015 and 2016. In 2015 the number rose by 7% to 588,000 and was slightly higher still in 2016 at 590,000.
An unregulated market:
But despite the rise in deaths last year, the number of funerals conducted by Dignity fell by almost 3,000 to 70,700.
The company is losing market share and facing higher competition in the funerals sector from companies offering pre-arranged funeral plans. Lack of regulations is encouraging new entrants in the market. Dignity stated that some businesses in the funeral market are offering digital services.
Chief executive of Dignity, Mike McCollum, said that their company is actively seeking regulation of its markets, saying: “Looking into the future, we anticipate further engagement with the Scottish and Westminster parliaments, as we believe regulation of the funeral and pre-arranged funeral markets is necessary to ensure every family receives minimum standards of care from appropriate facilities. We also expect to invest more in digital technologies that will help our clients and also act as a source of new business for the group.”
The company is also introducing new, more affordable services that they would not normally expected to be able to help, according to McCollum.
Dignity expectations for its financial performance in 2017 were unchanged, however, the company has lowered its medium-term target for earnings per share growth to 8% a year from 10%, which affected shares negatively.
In the 53 weeks to 30 December 2016, Dignity’s revenue rose by 3% to £313.6m when compared with the 52 weeks to 25 December in 2015. Pre-tax profit also rose 3% to £71.2m.