SAIF welcomes Scotland’s new Guidance on Funeral Costs

May 16, 2019   //   No Comments

By Paul Stevenson, President of Scottish SAIF

Following extensive consultation, the Scottish Government has published its Guidance on Funeral Costs, covering transparency of pricing, clarity in estimates and awareness of low-cost funeral options.

At Scottish SAIF, we view this as a welcome development and urge our members and the wider funeral profession to study the Guidance. There are lots of useful pointers on best practice in there which, if replicated, will further improve bereaved families’ experience of using a funeral director.

The guidance builds on the good work to date of Scottish SAIF’s and National SAIF’s quality assurance programme and inspection system, which have played an important role in raising standards amongst independent funeral directors in Scotland and beyond over a number of years.

Crucially, it’s worth noting that the Guidance “is distinct from the Scottish Government Code of Practice for funeral directors, which may include requirements on funeral directors and which funeral directors must comply with when it comes into effect.”

We suspect that funeral directors who follow the spirit of the Guidance will be well on the way to compliance with the statutory code when it is eventually introduced.

That said, various aspects of the Guidance are very much in line with SAIF’s Codes of Practice, such as on ensuring invoices mirror estimates and making clients aware of simple funeral options.

We also welcome the recommendation of a need for a “clear and sensitive” description of services relating to the care of the deceased.

It is important that families know what, if any, procedures are being undertaken in mortuaries as this will help to raise awareness of the important work funeral directors do beyond front-of-house activities, such as arranging and conducting.

Additionally, it is very encouraging to see a distinction being drawn between simple funerals and direct cremations and burials. The Guidance states that families should be made aware of the exact nature of direct cremations and burials in order to allow informed choices.

We’ve long held that direct cremations or burials are not a solution to funeral poverty and that removing ritualised mourning from bereavement is likely to be detrimental to many people’s long-term mental health.

We applaud the Scottish Government for producing the Guidance and are grateful that views of a wide range of stakeholders across Scotland have been taken into account in its development.

Whether you’re a funeral director in Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland, the document is of significant interest. Please do read it.