The funeral sector has been accused of unreasonable price hikes and pushy sales tactics by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), a watchdog, which has called for an investigation.

The price of a standard funeral has rapidly increased over the past decade and now stands at between £3,000 and £5,000, a CMA report found.

The prices of essential elements such as coffins, burial and cremation services have gone up by more than two thirds in the last 10 years, almost three times the rate of inflation.

While some funeral providers have introduced lower-cost options, the CMA said “this does not go far enough to make up for years of above inflation price hikes”.

The report drew attention to serious concerns over the vulnerable state of people recently bereaved, who can easily be exploited by some funeral directors charging more.

Ian Strang, of funeral comparison site Beyond, said the report was a “clear indication of how the sector has been allowed to become like the Wild West”.

He added that the British taboo around death meant people were less likely to shop around, potentially missing out on thousands in savings.

The watchdog’s Andrea Coscelli said: “People mourning the loss of a loved one are extremely vulnerable and at risk of being exploited.

“We want to hear from people who have experienced poor practices in the sector, so that we can take any action needed to fix these problems.”

The CMA is welcoming responses to its recent report until Jan 4 2019.

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