A family-owned funeral firm in Stockton on Tees has launched an initiative aimed at easing the pressure of paying for a funeral.

Crake & Mallon, which has served the Stockton and Teesside communities for the past 45 years, has introduced a flexible range of payment choices for families that have been carefully designed to help keep costs affordable.

The firm’s Senior Partner, Alison Crake, explained that they decided to take action to address the concerns that many people have about how they are going to meet the cost of the funeral and any associated expenses.

“There has been a lot of publicity surrounding this issue and we have seen first-hand the distress that this can cause families at what is already a very difficult time.

“Earlier this year we decided that it was time to take some action so we started to look into providing some alternative options for families when they have to settle their accounts with us.”

In the early part of 2016 Crake and Mallon embarked on extensive research into the range of financing that it would be able to offer people.

Alison said: “We spent a considerable amount of time looking for a finance provider that is as committed to the highest possible standards and services as we are.

“To provide extra assurance to families we also embarked on the process of being authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which took six months to complete and means that we are bound by its Code of Practice.”

In September Crake and Mallon entered into an agreement with Divido Financial Services Limited allowing the firm to act as a credit intermediary.

Since the start of November families have been able to choose between three payment options that include an interest free 0% finance option, a reduction in Crake & Mallon’s professional fees for prompt payment and a deposit payment followed by the payment of the balance once the final invoice is submitted.

The firm has worked closely with its legal advisers to put in place strategies designed to avoid the dangers of misselling that have been associated with financial products in the past.

Full details of the payment options available are left with families when the funeral arrangements are discussed giving the family the opportunity to discuss their requirements in private before confirming how they wish to settle their account with their Funeral Director.  No decision is made with Crake and Mallon staff present.  All applications for the 0% finance option have to be made online at the funeral firm’s offices to the finance provider Divido, which makes the decision to approve.

Alison commented: “This is not about selling anything, it is about addressing the very real and current issue of funeral affordability.

“Our sole aim is to protect people against taking on too much debt at a time when they are very distressed and committing to things that they cannot afford.

“We care passionately about the families we support and work with and take our responsibility to look after them at what is an incredibly challenging time very seriously indeed.”

Crake & Mallon is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD), the largest funeral industry body, which stated earlier this year that it believes that the combination of a British unwillingness to talk about funerals and a society that is no longer saving for a rainy day is the key reason behind the challenges facing many families in funding the funeral of someone close to them.

Alison added: “More than ever people need to be protected from taking on a debt they can’t afford at a time when they are very vulnerable which is what we are doing our best to protect our families from.”