Poll shows four out of five people (80%) back new rules to help grieving families

Four out of five people in Britain want utility companies, banks, mobile phone and other service providers to comply with new account closure rules to make life easier for families who have been bereaved.

A UK-wide opinion poll conducted by YouGov shows that 80% of the British public agree with all three major cornerstones of a new Bereavement Standard which would force service providers to treat grieving families more compassionately and would speed up distressing end of life admin.

The poll of more than 2,000 people, across all four nations of the UK, was carried out on behalf of the Bereavement Standard campaign which is led by mother and daughter Julie and Vicky Wilson and leading charity, Cruse Bereavement Care.

The latest polling comes on the day senior executives from some of the UK’s biggest banks and insurance companies meet to discuss their support for a Bereavement Standard.

A petition, launched by Julie and Vicky, calling on the government to introduce a new Bereavement Standard has attracted nearly 90,000 supporters. An early day motion in parliament has been signed by 50 MPs and has cross-party support.

Vicky Wilson, co-founder of online startup Settld, said: “This research shows that the British public have had enough of bereavement bureaucracy and want companies to improve their treatment of grieving families and to speed up and simplify their processes.

“We urge the government to listen to the public and to back our calls, which are supported by dozens of organisations, regulators, companies and charities, for a new Bereavement Standard.”

The poll shows that an overwhelming majority of the British public agree there should be a Bereavement Standard which all service providers must follow. In addition:

  • 87% agree that companies should settle accounts and pay outstanding balances within an agreed timeframe. At present some families have to wait weeks, months, and in some cases years, to get accounts closed satisfactorily.
  • 87% agree that paperwork should be standardised and digital documents accepted where possible. Currently service providers ask for different documents and proof of death.
  • 89% agree that companies should offer a dedicated bereavement channel and proper training for customer support staff dealing with bereavement.

Steven Wibberly, CEO of Cruse Bereavement Care said: “At Cruse we know how important it is that companies deal with grieving families compassionately. This poll shows that companies need to up their game and allow bereaved families the time and space to grieve, instead of having to deal with endless paperwork and phone calls, which can increase the distress they are under at what is already an incredibly difficult time.”

The campaign is supported by charities such as Marie Curie, Hospice UK, At A Loss, WAY Widowed and Young, alongside wills, probate and funerals experts, Farewill. A ‘Bereavement Standard Working Group’ to help bring about the requested standard has also been established with leading service providers, parliamentarians, charities and UK regulators.

Funeral directors are also backing a new Standard.

Sarah Jones, owner of independent funeral directors Full Circle Funerals, in Guiseley, Yorkshire, said: “In my experience, it is extremely difficult for families to manage all of the paperwork involved in closing their loved one’s accounts. They find it bewildering and a Bereavement Standard would take a lot of the stress out of what is a harrowing situation.

“These new rules would allow people to start the grief process in a much more positive manner.”

The Bereavement Standard would set a time limit for account closures, standardise paperwork and documents required, and would ensure service providers have dedicated bereavement channels with properly trained staff, available to customers.

For further information, please contact:
Tim Reid
07720 414205

Notes to Editors
YouGov survey: Total sample size was 2,086 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 9th – 10th September 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
Across the UK, more than 600,000 people die every year. Currently, there is no approved process for closing accounts when someone dies. On average individuals have up to 20 utility, banking, mobile, broadband, TV subscription, and other household service accounts which need to be closed.
The Bereavement Standard ‘petition campaign group’ consists of Cruse Bereavement Care, Sue Ryder, Co-Op Funerals, Marie Curie, Jack’s Law campaigner Lucy Herd, Good Grief Trust, Parkinsons UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Farewill, Change.org, Independent Age, WAY Widowed and Young, AtALoss.org and the National Bereavement Alliance.
Settld was awarded a COVID-19 grant by Innovate UK in May 2020, to provide a free, automated, end of life account closure web service to help those facing bereavement. It will automate end of life admin by allowing people to close multiple accounts in one go.