Politics in July

MP: Regulation must protect local funeral directors

On 5 June, just four days after HM Treasury published its regulatory proposal for the funeral plan market, Scottish National Party (SNP) frontbench MP Neil Gray initiated an adjournment debate on the matter.

Opening the debate, the MP for Airdrie and Shotts argued that, as “many family-run funeral directors are linchpins of their communities”, the impact of regulation on small and microbusinesses is the concern “expressed most keenly by people in the market”.

Recognising that “funeral plans are the best route to avoiding funeral poverty”, Mr Gray called for a regulatory regime that would boost consumer confidence and result in “a greater uptake of funeral plans”.

Bringing his comments to a close, the member for Airdrie and Shotts asked: “How do the Government protect competition in the market to make sure that smaller funeral providers are not squeezed out by the burden of regulation?”

Responding, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen MP, noted that the Government “need to get [FCA regulation] right, given the wide range of small family providers, and to make sure it is appropriate”.

Mr Glen also recognised that: “Reports of poor practice have largely come from providers that are not FPA members.”

HM Treasury has launched a consultation on proposals to bring the funeral plan sector within the regulatory scope of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), with submissions accepted until 25 August.

Parliament ‘commends’ Golden Charter Good Death Week event

The chair of the Scottish Parliament Cross-Party Group on Funerals and Bereavement Richard Lyle MSP has lodged a motion with the Scottish Parliament commending Golden Charter for hosting the inaugural Good Death Week parliamentary event.

The member for Uddingston and Bellshill asked parliament to “acknowledge another successful Good Death Week, commends Bearsden-based Golden Charter and… welcomes the efforts of the Scottish Government” in tackling funeral poverty.

Support for Mr Lyle’s motion came from across the chamber, including Labour’s Alex Rowley and Bob Doris MSP, chair of the Cross-Party Group on Palliative Care.

Taking place each year in May, Good Death Week encourages open conversation and planning for death and dying, so that families are better prepared at the time of need.

Scottish Government issues code of practice consultation

On Friday 21 June, the Scottish Government Burial and Cremation Policy team published a consultation on a code of practice for funeral directors.

The consultation will run for just over 12 weeks, until 20 September. The answers will be analysed and will contribute to the final iteration of the code. Once finalised, the code will be statutory, requiring all funeral directors operating in Scotland to adhere to it.

It is therefore in the interest of every Scottish member to read this code and respond to the consultation with their own opinions.

Draft standards for mortuary services

The Scottish Government invited Scottish SAIF to take part in a focus group to discuss the standards for future mortuary services. SAIF and Scottish NAFD representatives joined this meeting on 18 July.

Scottish burial regulations

The Scottish Government has announced its intention to set burial regulations for Scotland and has invited Scottish SAIF to contribute to the discussions. The meetings will take place in the next few months and will be attended by a small team of representatives from the Scottish SAIF Executive.

We will keep you informed of developments in all of the above as it happens.

Read the code here.

Answer the consultation papers here.

Joseph Murren
Scottish Government Liaison Officer

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