More than 92,000 people have called for bereavement reforms which could speed up and simplify end-of-life account closure processes.
Backed by MP Grahame Morris and charities Marie Curie, Sue Ryder, MND, and the Good Grief Trust, the Bereavement Standard campaign comes after concerns that existing rules needlessly burden families during an already difficult time.
According to recent statistics, more than 600,000 families are put through the bereavement process each year after the death of a loved one. This process can include closing down multiple accounts in the deceased’s name, such as TV licence, utilities, banking, phone, broadband and other subscription services.
However, most companies demand to see proof and paperwork – such as the death certificate – before shutting down an account, unnecessarily burdening families.
The campaign calls to end this stressful burden and introduce a new set of agreed standards which commercial service providers would need to meet. These include:
- An agreed timeframe for companies to respond to bereavement enquiries and settle outstanding customer balances
- A bereavement customer care email channel for each company, to directly handle such cases and avoid customers waiting on calls; and
- The standardisation of paperwork needed to close an account, with a view to accepting digital documents whenever possible.
But “a lack of cohesion across government” is preventing such measures from being imposed, said Mr Morris.
“Currently, we lack cross-government coordination and focus. Issues of bereavement run across several departments – Health, Work and Pensions, Education, Justice and Business. We need a clear Ministerial lead on bereavement to ensure coordination across departments, otherwise bereaved families will continue to slip through the net.”
Commenting on the campaign, co-founder Vicky Wilson added: “We need a Bereavement Standard now more than ever and we need swifter action from the government to bring it about. With the death toll from the pandemic standing at more than 100,000 people, it’s clear that more needs to be done to ease the stress on families who have lost loved ones.
“Our discussions with the government and regulators have been positive so far but have shown that no department is able to consider all of the issues, because no minister is entirely in charge of all the issues.”
To find out more about the Bereavement Standard campaign, please click here.
For help and advice with related matters, please get in touch with Natalie Payne, Head of Wills and Estate Administration at Mackrell.Solicitors on +44 (0) 207 240 0521 or at Natalie.Payne@mackrell.com
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