‘Sensible’ approach to licensing Scottish funeral businesses welcomed

23/08/2019   //   No Comments

SAIF has welcomed today’s announcement by the Scottish Government on the introduction of a ‘progressive licensing’ scheme by the end of 2020 for funeral directors in Scotland.

The adoption of a progressive licensing approach demonstrates that Holyrood has listened fairly to all stakeholders in its quest to regulate the profession in accordance with the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016.

The system, outlined in former Inspector of Funeral Directors Natalie McKail’s report to Ministers, will begin with the registration of businesses and identification of a competent person within each firm.

This will allow the Government to develop an appropriate inspection and enforcement model, underpinned by “phased regulatory intervention over a defined period” to ensure firms understand what is expected of them.

Meanwhile, the ‘competent person’ within each funeral business will potentially have to hold qualifications and be without a criminal record, particularly relating to crimes of dishonesty.

Scottish SAIF President Paul Stevenson said: “As representatives of independent funeral directors we have consistently made the case that a one-size-fits-all regulatory model could be hugely damaging to respected local funeral firms.

“Today’s sensible announcement suggests that we have been listened to fairly throughout the process and we will continue to support and work closely with the Scottish Government to ensure a licensing system that works for bereaved people and the wide range of hardworking funeral directors across Scotland.”

Terry Tennens, Chief Executive of SAIF, added: “I would encourage funeral directors across the UK to study the report as regulation is likely to become a fact of life for funeral business in all four corners of these islands. 

“Our colleagues in Scotland, working in partnership with the Government and other stakeholders in the funeral sector, have demonstrated the importance of building positive dialogue and engaging with the process. It’s the only way to ensure we get the best outcomes for bereaved people and our profession.”

Additionally, SAIF is heartened to learn that its proposal for a “Panel or Committee of peer experts to consider matters of professional competence or appeal” will be given consideration.

However, Terry sounded a note of caution: “Any system of regulation and licensing is likely to add costs for businesses. We hope that the Scottish Government can keep these to a minimum, as the last thing SAIF members want to see is a form of regulation that results in higher funeral costs, affecting funeral affordability.”  

The report by Ms McKail also states that there is no appetite at this stage to license individuals. For the first three years, there will be a period of learning with respect to the development of business licensing, the statutory code of practice and inspections and enforcement.

The report former Inspector of Funeral Directors’ report can be read in full here.

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