The Role of the FPA
The FPA's role goes somewhat further than the basic regulation and aims to ensure that:
- Registered Providers regulated by the FPA maintain high standards of professional conduct;
- The money paid by customers to Registered Providers for a funeral is safeguarded so that, when the time comes, their funeral is provided in accordance with that plan;
- Registered Providers co-operate in the delivery of the FPA's Pledge to Customers.
The FPA does this by:
- Checking that Registered Providers are fit and proper persons,
- Monitoring via a totally independent Compliance Committee, Registered Providers’ compliance with the exclusion criteria in the Regulated Activities Order and also with the FPA's Rules;
- Setting standards of professional conduct for Registered Providers, their staff, agents and representatives; see code of conduct
- Ensuring either
- That funds are protected by being held in trust, are regularly audited, regularly reviewed by an actuary and are only invested by independent fund managers authorised under the Financial Services & Markets Act 2000; OR
- That funds are applied towards a contract of whole life insurance on the life of the customer.
- Providing arrangements for resolving disputes between Registered Providers and their customers;
- a Pledge to Customers so that, in the unlikely event of a Registered Provider becoming insolvent, the other Registered Providers shall co-operate and examine ways in which the FPA might assist in arranging delivery of the funerals of customers of the insolvent Registered Provider.
By its Rules, the FPA has introduced a conciliation service in an endeavour to resolve any complaint or dispute which arises between a Registered Provider and a customer, another Registered Provider or a third party. Further information is provided in the Complaints section.
Welcome to the the Funeral Planning Authority Limited ("the FPA"). The FPA exists to help protect consumers’ interests across the spectrum of the Funeral Planning sector within the UK. The FPA are staunchly independent and impartial in all our dealings on behalf of consumers. The FPA is a company limited by guarantee, whose shareholders are the Funeral Planning Council and the National Association for Pre-Paid Funeral Plans and both of these organisations are effectively trade associations of companies heavily involved in the UK Funeral Planning sector.
The current format of the Funeral Planning sector in the UK evolved during the 1980’s and 1990’s. There was no regulation of the sector and hence anyone could become a funeral plan provider and take monies in advance for future funeral provision. After extensive consultation, HM Treasury brought forward regulation to ensure proper consumer protection for the security of customer's money and delivery of the funeral in the future. Regulation took effect from 1 January 2002 and affects all funeral plans sold from that date onwards. The FPA is the self-regulatory organisation for the UK Funeral Planning sector.
Regulation of funeral plans
The detail of regulation of funeral plans is contained in articles 59 & 60 of The Financial Services & Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) Order 2001 (www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/si/si2001/20010544.htm). The broad purpose is to help ensure that money paid by the consumer to a funeral plan provider for the purposes of providing a funeral in the future is kept safely, and is available when the time comes for delivery of the agreed funeral in accordance with the plan specification. The effect of the regulation is that those plans which are structured in accordance with certain statutory criteria, are excluded from direct financial regulation by the Financial Services Authority. (www.fsa.gov.uk) There are two kinds of financial arrangement which, if the exclusion criteria is are satisfied, will be excluded from the regulation ("the exclusion criteria").
- The money is held in a trust fund under the responsibility of the trustees, more than half of whom must be unconnected with the plan provider. The trustees must also appoint an independent fund manager, and apply specific accounting and actuarial requirements.
- The money is applied towards a contract of whole life insurance on the life of the customer