Preparing for new licensing legislation

Following the launch of a Scottish Government public consultation in August on a proposed funeral director licensing scheme for Scotland, SAIF is planning a roadshow across the country to make sure its members are ‘regulation ready’ for the new legislation.

In the coming months, SAIF Scotland’s Executive will arrange local meetings with members to explain the Code of Practice for Funeral Directors – which is currently under review – and answer questions about the proposed funeral director licensing scheme. There will also be a discussion at next April’s Education Day.

Joseph Murren, SAIF Scottish Government Liaison, explained the purpose of the ‘regulation ready’ roadshow: “Our programme has several objectives, but the main ones are to inform our members about developments and to discuss all areas of the Code, to address any concerns they may have regarding their own position and to reassure everyone of the continuous support from SAIF.

“We will also provide tools and templates, which may be required for compliance, and support members, on request, with a one-to-one on-site assessment and advice. SAIF will continue to assist with communication and consultation with Government Inspectors and provide contingency support for our members.”

As Scottish funeral directors will be aware, the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016 came into law in April 2016, enabling the authorities to inspect funeral homes and license funeral directors. Following the passing of this Bill, the Scottish Government appointed the first Inspector of Funerals, and the Burial and Cremation Team established a group to develop a Code of Practice for Funeral Directors.

This group included representatives from SAIF, together with other funeral associations and stakeholders, and a draft Code was produced. The Code is still under review but once it is agreed by Ministers, compliance will become a mandatory requirement for all funeral directors and for obtaining a licence to provide funeral services to the bereaved in Scotland. The draft Code will soon be put before Ministers for enactment, following which government-appointed Inspectors will begin a programme of inspections.

Scottish Ministers are now proposing to bring into force Part 5 of the 2016 Act to introduce a licensing scheme for funeral directors in Scotland. Over the past 12 months, SAIF has contributed to discussions on a licensing scheme, which is now subject to a public consultation that launched on 25 August and will run until 17 November 2023.

The purpose of this consultation is to seek views on the implementation of regulations for funeral director licensing, which if implemented would create a licensing regime for funeral directors. This consultation is being published as part of a collection of consultations relating to the content of various sets of regulations that will be made under sections of the 2016 Act which have not yet been implemented and which relate to alkaline hydrolysis (also known as water cremation), management of burial grounds and inspection of the funeral sector.

Joseph added: “A timetable of dates and local venues will be arranged and invitations will be sent to our members, including an online version for those members in remote areas. Once we have arranged the dates and venues, an invitation will be sent giving approximately four weeks’ notice and a reply will be required to ensure your company is represented and numbers can be catered for. If you cannot attend your local meeting, then you are welcome to attend another area or join the online meeting.”

Commenting on the SAIF roadshow, James Morris, SAIF Scottish President, said: “The introduction of a Code and licensing represents the biggest ever change to funeral services in Scotland, and many funeral directors may be concerned about the impact it will have on their business when it comes to compliance.

“SAIF members should not be overly concerned as they are supported by the UK’s largest funeral association. The ‘regulation ready’ programme will ensure Scottish SAIF members are ready for regulation – it is a benefit of membership and demonstrates the importance of being a member of SAIF.”

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