UK death rate rise at 63-year high says Dignity


UK – Dignity reports an “extraordinary” year for deaths in 2015 and admits the rate of increase stretched its services.

A surge in the death rate not witnessed for more than 60 years has helped a funeral firm to report a 16% rise in profits.

Dignity, the UK’s only funeral services operator to be listed on the stock market, charted a 7% rise in the number of deaths in England, Scotland and Wales in the year to 25 December 2015 compared to the same period in 2014.

There were 588,000 in total.

It represented a rate of change not seen since 1952, the company said – adding that it was unclear why the death rate had risen so sharply as trends had broadly showed falls since the 1970s and the rate was not tipped to rise significantly until the 2020s.

The firm, which operates more than 700 funeral homes, described 2015 as “an extraordinary year” – admitting its funeral and cremation services had been caught out by the increase.

Chief executive, Mike McCollum, said: “Our staff have performed tremendously in a year when we had to look after a lot more families than originally anticipated.

Our standards remained high, as reflected in the outstanding responses from our client surveys.

“Our financial performance was very strong as a result, helped by our continued focus on maintaining good cost controls alongside excellent client service and investment in the business.”

Dignity reported underlying operating profits for 2015 of £98.7m on a 14% jump in revenues to £305.3m.

Official death rate figures, compiled by the Office for National Statistics, for 2015 are not due to be released until July.

The statistics for 2014 showed the most common cause of death was cancer – accounting for 29% of all deaths – followed by heart disease and strokes.


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