View sought on cemetery costs and pricing in NSW

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) is seeking feedback on the costs of and pricing for interment services in New South Wales cemeteries.

 

Interment services (burial of a body or cremated remains) are provided by cemeteries operated by Crown land managers, local councils, private operators, church and community groups.

 

IPART released an Interim Report in December 2019 which found that there is a wide variation in prices for interment services, prices are not displayed consistently by cemeteries and are difficult for consumers to compare.

 

IPART Tribunal member Ms Deborah Cope said that the Interim Report recommends ways to make it easier for consumers to understand and compare prices so as to increase choice and affordability.

 

“To provide greater transparency in cemetery pricing, we are recommending that all cemetery operators be required to publish itemised prices for interment services using consistent terminology. We are also recommending that the NSW Government set up a website to allow people to easily compare prices across all cemeteries in NSW.”

 

One of the challenges facing cemeteries, particularly in Sydney, is a lack of burial space and the cost of locating and purchasing land for new cemeteries.

 

IPART has made an interim recommendation that the cemeteries regulator, Cemeteries and Crematoria NSW, become responsible for acquiring land for new cemeteries in Sydney.

 

Another issue facing cemeteries is ensuring there are adequate funds to maintain them into the future. IPART has made interim recommendations to make sure cemeteries continue to be maintained once they are full, and has developed a pricing tool for new cemeteries to help operators work out these costs into the future.

 

Ms Cope said that the next stage of the review will include looking at the costs for the Crown cemeteries in Sydney and making sure they are efficient, as well as developing a pricing tool for existing cemeteries. IPRT is also looking at competition, costs and pricing factors for the funeral industry.

 

IPART has extended the closing date for submissions on the Interim Report until 28 February 2020. A full copy of the Interim Report is available at https://www.ipart.nsw.gov.au/files/sharedassets/website/shared-files/investigation-administrative-publications-interment-costs-and-pricing-in-the-funeral-industry/interim-report-review-of-interment-costs-and-pricing-december-2019.pdf

 

A draft report will be released for further comment in June 2020. A public hearing will also be held in June. Final recommendations will be made in October 2020.

 

12 February 2020.