Regulation: Standing together

words: Mark Porteous, National SAIF President
Mark Porteous

By the time you read this edition of SAIFInsight, compliance with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)’s Funerals Market Investigation Order will be a fact of life. It’s not an overstatement to say that the Order has sent shockwaves through the profession, particularly for small business owners who are spinning multiple, precariously balanced plates.

My personal opinion about the Order may be well known among fellow professionals and it’s clear from conversations with colleagues across the UK that there are differing views in the independent sector. Some folk are furious, others are nonchalant.

Whatever you think about this new set of regulations, one thing is clear: there is a continued need to engage the CMA positively and advocate for the best possible long-term outcome for precious family-run firms. On that note, I’m proud of the work SAIF has done to date in supporting members to understand their new obligations, whether that be through webinars, bulletins, or support from the team at the SAIF Business Centre. They’ve risen to the occasion and responded quickly and proactively.

For now, though, we need to park our passion and comply with the Order. Where you can, please assist your neighbours if they’re struggling to understand some of the Order’s Articles, which I have to confess I’m finding open to misinterpretation and vague in areas.

Nonetheless, I can’t stress how important it is that we keep both a cool head and the bigger picture in mind. The Government may have pushed back against the CMA’s call for greater regulation of the funeral profession, but it doesn’t take a genius to work out that if funeral directors refuse to comply with the 2021 Order we may find ourselves staring at even more stringent and damaging legal requirements in the near future. And who would that serve?

I know the team at SAIF Business Centre has found the months since the Order was made challenging. In addition to being inundated by members hungry for information, they have also acted as counsellors and shoulders to cry on for bewildered business owners.

The team has also received calls from frustrated members who feel that SAIF could have done more to prevent the Order. I resolutely push back against such suggestions. Our brilliant CEO Terry Tennens, along with his team and the volunteer government liaison officers, have done themselves proud in cutting through a million different points of view to get the best possible outcome in the circumstances. Part of this involves the establishment of the SAIF CMA Order Response Group, which is tasked with understanding the impacts of the Order and advocating for change where necessary. I would like to ask members who may have cause to telephone the Business Centre to take a moment to thank the team for their dedication, and at least be respectful if you disagree with their approach.

I’d also like to thank our First Vice President Jo Parker for stepping in last time during my absence. Brilliant article, Jo!

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