A father from Newton Heath fears he is set to lose £2,800 he paid into a funeral plan after the company went bust.
Mark McCluney, a 51-year-old property developer and landlord, is preparing to move to the Philippines with his partner and wanted to make sure his 22-year-old son Christopher would not have to handle things alone when he eventually passes away.
He has paid into Safe Hands Funeral Plans, who are believed to have left around 45,000 customers in limbo. Administrators FRP said they were appointed to Safe Hands Funeral Plans, after the company went bust following “a period of severe financial challenge which has left the business unsustainable in its current form.”
Mark says: “I just wanted to make sure that if anything happened, my son would not be burdened. He could just pick up the phone and it would be sorted. Safe Hands funeral plans were endorsed by the National federation of funeral directors.
“They offered upfront or pay monthly funeral plans for customers which grew with inflation so in five, 10, 30, 40 years the plan will still cover the cost of the funeral for the customers in line with inflation and cost increases.
“I received a letter from FRP informing me and thousands of other customers that Safe Hands funeral plans had gone into receivership and FRP are the appointed administrators. FRP are now carrying out an investigation into the mis-management of the company and where and how customers money has gone.
“The problem is funeral plans are un-regulated and open to fraud and abuse from anyone who wants to set up random funeral plans for unsuspecting customers. These plans were average of £2,850 at a time when people are being encouraged to make pre-paid arrangements for their funeral.
“This now throws doubt on the industry for providing the services that customers pay for and arrangements that are agreed beforehand, it’s a sad day for an industry where the customer’s relatives are supposed to put their trust into these funeral providers and ensure the deceased customers get their wishes.
“This industry now needs an overall and mandatory regulations put in place to prevent 1000s of more people falling foul of a fly by night funeral company wishing to raise capital and then close or mis-manage customers’ money to such degree that the business ceases trading There has to be accountability and answers if this industry is not now regulated.
“I have put out all that money and it is just wasted money. I don’t want to have to start again but unfortunately that might be the case, but there are thousands of families out there that can’t afford to do that. “
Nedim Ailyan and Ben Stanyon of specialist business advisory firm FRP were appointed as Joint Administrators to Safe Hands Plans Limited, who had more than 45,000 customers in the UK, on Wednesday 23 March 2022. Funds of policy holders are held by Safe Hands Trust Fund.
The Joint Administrators were appointed by the directors of Safe Hands Plans after a period of severe financial challenge which has left the business unsustainable in its current form. Upon appointment of the Joint Administrators, the business has ceased to trade and will no longer provide funeral planning services to existing customers. Current plans have been terminated and the business will no longer take any direct debit or standing order payments.
An interim funeral services provision by Dignity Funerals Limited was agreed for a period of 14 days. The Joint Administrators of Safe Hands Plans Limited have agreed to a further 14-day interim funeral services provision with Dignity Funerals Limited up to and including 20 April 2022.
Nedim Ailyan, Partner at FRP and Joint Administrator of Safe Hands Plans Limited, said: “Safe Hands Plans is no longer in a position to continue trading as a result of the Administration. Our immediate focus has been to secure an interim funeral services provision with Dignity for the next 14 days to ensure that any plan holders that pass away are cared for whilst we seek to find a longer-term solution.
“As Joint Administrators, we have been appointed by the court and will undertake a detailed statutory investigation of the financial position of the business and the events leading to the insolvency. This will support our work as we progress towards realizing the company’s assets to make returns to creditors.
“Regrettably, the administration means the company is not in a position to issue refunds at this time. We appreciate how upsetting this period of uncertainty will be for Safe Hands Plans’ customers and their families.
“We will contact all plan holders, and personal representatives of any deceased plan holders, to outline the process for registering a claim as part of the administration.”
From July 29 FCA regulation will be coming into force and all funeral plan providers and intermediaries must have appropriate authorization to continue.
Customers can contact Safe Hands Place’s customer service number: 0800 640 9928.