Council ‘stealth tactics’ rebuffed


The impact that COVID-19 has had on businesses and individuals across the UK has been huge. And for some there has been an added concern over their future relationship with councils, leading calls for a regulator in England and Wales.

SAIF member Becky Horton, of Hortons Funeral Directors in Hull, has seen a council-owned bereavement service set up under cover of the crisis.

“We have faced a huge issue here,” explains Becky. “The local authority tried to open a funeral service, saying they needed to do it because of the pandemic, which caused quite a few issues. They actively put out a bereavement guide – into hospitals and care homes – with lower costs than local funeral directors. That was abusing their privilege.”

Hull Council also increased body storage capacity which remains unused and equipped a fleet of local authority vans for call outs.

The council-run funerals issue has been recurring for years around the country, and SAIF has assisted in rebuffing any move in this area. SAIF’s Chief Executive, Terry Tennens said: “My impression is that it is a council-run service ‘by stealth’, that there is a lack of transparency about the service and it must not have any favourable rates for cremation compared to private funeral homes, as that would be against Local Authority trading rules and anti-competitive.”

As the COVID-19 crisis plateaued in Hull, Becky Horton confirmed: “We have managed so far to stop them in their tracks and kept things together to give families the choice they deserve, but the sooner a funerals regulator is brought in, the better.”

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