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Associations unite on regulation

Funeral directors from across Scotland came together at a conference in Stirling to pledge to work with the Scottish Government on introducing regulation to the sector.

The pledge follows the passing of the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016, which includes the introduction of a statutory inspector of funeral directors, regulations governing the profession and the possible licensing of funeral directors.

Funeral directors from across Scotland came together at a conference in Stirling to pledge to work with the Scottish Government on introducing regulation to the sector. 

The pledge follows the passing of the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016, which includes the introduction of a statutory inspector of funeral directors, regulations governing the profession and the possible licensing of funeral directors.

The Act could have ramifications for the industry across the UK. The regulations stemming from it will influence services received by bereaved people and how the funeral profession conducts business for years to come.  

The conference was organised by the National Association of Funeral Directors Scotland (NAFD Scotland) and the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors Scotland (SAIF Scotland). Around 100 representatives of independent funeral directing businesses attended, as well as the larger firms, including Co-op Funeralcare and Dignity.

The two trade associations, whose membership comprises more than 80% of the funeral world, signed an agreement, which represents a formal commitment to work with Scottish Ministers to develop regulations that will be proportionate and appropriate and ultimately will benefit bereaved people.  

This agreement was submitted to The Scottish Government. Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said: “Regulating funeral directors’ businesses is an important step in ensuring that bereaved families receive the best possible care at a time when they are potentially very vulnerable.”

The joint agreement, which is a public document, sets out a series of guiding principles for both organisations to follow in the development of regulation. These include the need to ensure safety and public health and to work in the public interest. 

The document also states that its purpose “is to facilitate the contribution of all funeral directors, suppliers and those with an interest in the industry to the regulatory developments under the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016, in the public interest”.

The Stirling debate onsidered potential challenges such as how cross-border funeral directors might be affected and what should be the minimum standards of the new regime. It also considered the implications for families in the event that a funeral business was closed for breach of Government regulations.

Mandie Lavin, chief executive of the NAFD, said: “Our forefathers lobbied for regulation in the 19th century but for one reason or another it didn’t happen. We’re now on the cusp of delivering a new settlement for bereaved people in Scotland which I’m sure will have a positive impact across the remainder of the UK.”

Members of both associations are planning to meet again in the autumn to gauge views and develop a set of data that will inform the development of regulation. The two associations are also working together to strengthen codes of practice and complaints procedures.

Mandie Lavin CEO of the NAFD is pictured with SAIF's Paul Allcock.

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