Safe Hands this week hired FRP Advisory to oversee its insolvency process, in a move that puts as many as 45,000 funeral plans into doubt. We hear from customers who fear they may not get a refund
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Safe Hands this week hired FRP Advisory to oversee its insolvency process, in a move that puts as many as 45,000 funeral plans into doubt.
The decision means the company will no longer take any payments, or take on new customers.
But for the people that have already taken out a plan with Safe Hands, they now face the prospect of a long wait to see if they can reclaim any of their cash.
One customer, Diane Eaton-Lees, 65, contacted The Mirror and explained how she took out a funeral plan in September 2018 and paid just under £3,000.
The retired collection agent, who lives in Walsall, tried to request a refund two months ago – before the company collapsed – but says she hasn’t received a penny back.
“I tried to cancel two months ago after deciding I wanted a no-frills cremation,” she said.
“I have emails saying I would get a refund, but it looks like I’m getting nothing back now.”
Another customer, Bill Robins, 41, from Poole, took out a funeral plan following a health scare and finished paying off £1,895 in March 2020.
Do you have a funeral booked with Safe Hands? Let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org
He claims Safe Hands told him his money would be protected by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The company had only put in an application with the FCA, but this has now has been withdrawn.
It comes ahead of new regulation of the funeral sector which comes into force from July.
“Safe Hands told me my money would be protected by the FCA but they were never part of it, they only had an application to join it,” said Bill.
“I paid them £1,895 for a cremation. They misled me and now I might lose my money.”
Trevor Sarre and his wife, aged 66 and 60, told The Mirror they paid over £8,000 to Safe Hands and now say they have no idea whether they’ll get any of this back.
“We have each paid £4,024 to this company and now they have gone into administration and we may not get our money back,” he said.
“In February, I was assured that our money was in a secure fund.”
When a company goes bust, customers have to apply to the administrators for a refund – but in most cases, it isn’t guaranteed that any money will be returned to those left out of pocket.
Those affected may also only get a small portion of what they’re owed back, once administrators have finished paying off debts that the business owes.
Nedim Ailyan, partner at FRP and joint administrator of Safe Hands, yesterday said “the company is not in a position to issue refunds at this time”.
“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,” she added.
“This will support our work as we progress towards realising the company’s assets to make returns to creditors.”
The administrators said they will contact all affected customers and their personal representatives to outline the process for registering claims.
But a notice on the Safe Hands website reads: “The administrators are unable to confirm any potential estimated return to plan holders at this time.”
An agreement with funeral firm Dignity to provide existing customers with funeral planning services has been arranged for a period of 14 days.
The Mirror has contacted FRP Advisory for comment.