We strongly advise that you do not buy a plan from these firms.
We have been clear for some time that people should avoid buying new plans from funeral plan providers that have not applied for authorisation or had their application withdrawn or refused. We are repeating this guidance and strongly advise that you do not buy a plan from Empathy (Empathy Funeral Plans UK Limited) or Unique (Fox Milton & Co Limited, trading as Unique Funeral Plans).
Empathy Funeral Plans UK Limited
On 22 April 2022, Empathy withdrew its application for authorisation to sell and carry out funeral plans. We have asked Empathy not to sell any further plans and to inform customers of its withdrawn status as it will not be able to sell funeral plans after 28 July 2022.
Update: 31 May 2022
Empathy has now updated their website. We do not know whether it has contacted its customers directly.
Unique Funeral Plans
Unique Funeral Plans has not applied for FCA authorisation. It therefore will not be able to sell and carry out funeral plans after 28 July 2022. It has not responded to our requests for details of its plans for existing customers.
As of 24 May 2022, Unique Funeral Plans’ terms and conditions stated that ‘any payment you make to Unique Funeral Plans is held in the secure Unique Funeral Plans Trust which is independently managed by The Sterling Trust Corporation Ltd’.
However, Sterling Trust Corporation Limited has published the following statement on its website:
‘Sterling Trust Corporation Limited has not been appointed by Unique Funeral Plans (or any company affiliated with Unique) to act as a Trustee and as such these statements are not true. For the avoidance of doubt, Sterling Trust Corporation Limited has never received any customer funds from Unique Funeral Plans and does not manage money on behalf of Unique Funeral Plans.
‘Unique Funeral Plans have been requested to remove these incorrect and misleading statements from their website.’
The Government has changed the law, bringing funeral plans under our regulation from 29 July. Until then, we do not have the legal powers to regulate the sector.
However, even ahead of that date, funeral plan providers have obligations not to sell products or services they know cannot be delivered, which includes when they know they will not become authorised. Anyone considering a funeral plan should only use a provider who has applied for FCA authorisation as set out on our website.
As we do not regulate these firms, we cannot answer any enquiries from existing funeral plan customers. You should contact the relevant firm about its future plans. Funeral plans are not currently protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.