Wakefield pre-paid funeral company Safe Hands goes bust, leaving thousands in limbo

  • Video report by ITV Calendar reporter Jon Hill

Around 45,000 customers are believed to have been left in limbo after a West Yorkshire-based funeral plan company went bust.

Administrators FRP said they were appointed to Safe Hands Funeral Plans, whose head office was in Wakefield, after "a period of severe financial challenge, which has left the business unsustainable in its current form".

They said the company – which allowed customers to pay into plans to fund their funerals – could not provide immediate refunds, throwing the arrangements made by tens of thousands of people into doubt.

Some customers have been sharing their concerns after a Facebook group was set up by some of those affected.

One, Rekha Haughton, described herself as a former agent of the company. She wrote: "I am absolutely disgusted and completely devastated at the situation we are all in as my husband and I have also lost nearly £6,400.

"I can’t apologise enough to all my clients who took plans out with me, I am so very sorry but will do all I can to try and help us."

Another, Vera Abrams, said: "I worked till I was 76 and paid £3,550 to Safe Hands by doing that.

"I now appear to of lost all of that through people's inefficiency in being able to run a company. Lost [the] funeral plan and lost the money I paid out for it."

FRP said the company's difficulties were caused by a "combination of factors", some of which were linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It said there would be a "detailed investigation into the failure of the busines" and confirmed existing customers would no longer receive funeral planning services.

Another company, Dignity Funerals Ltd, would provide services for an interim period of 14 days.

Safe Hands was not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, which protects customers against financial misconduct.

Nedim Ailyan, partner at FRP, said: "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."

The administrators would contact all customers within seven days, they said.

Customers can contact the freephone customer service number 0800 640 9928.