SAIF Government Liaison update

words: Paul Allcock, F.SAIF, SAIF UK Government Liaison

The second half of 2023 and the beginning of this year have seen SAIF involved in a number of communications with Government departments to ensure the voice of the independent funeral director continues to be heard.

In November, SAIF hosted a webinar with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) which provided an update on the current process and eligibility for the Funeral Expenses Payment and the Children’s Funeral Fund.

This webinar was recorded and will be available to watch on the SAIF website.

That same month, the Law Commission issued its Terms of Reference for its review of the law surrounding burial, cremation and new funerary methods. The proposed timeline for reporting on each subject is as follows: Burial by mid-2025; cremation by the end of 2026; new funerary methods,

such as alkaline hydrolysis, human composting, by March 2026; while the rights and obligations in relation to a dead body will run concurrently with reporting by the end of 2028.

SAIF will be feeding into this consultation and further information regarding each of these projects can be found here.

Since the report from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on the regulation of funeral directors, SAIF has been in continuous discussions with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) offering advice and support as to what regulation should look like. While keeping abreast of other factors, such as the Fuller Inquiry, which are likely to have an effect on regulation, SAIF has been able to make its own reviews and offer proposals to the MoJ in an effort to ensure that SAIF is at the forefront of the very best practice in the funeral sector.

Following last year’s announcement that the implementation of the medical examiner system will result in death certification and registration reforms being moved to April 2024, SAIF has been continually monitoring proceedings.

Meetings have been held with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), together with MoJ and General Registry Office, to ascertain exactly what the new legislation will look like and when it will come into force.

Although draft legislation was announced in December, SAIF is still to have a definitive date other than April 2024 for full legislation.

There are still many concerns about the new process, not least the fact that many GP surgeries around the country are still not yet prepared for the changes when they are implemented. All these new processes and documents will affect all those involved in death certification, including funeral directors and, most importantly, the families we serve. If you are not up to date, please familiarise yourself at the website.

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