What new legislation means for you

words: Paul Allcock and Terry Tennens report the latest news from the Burial and Cremation Advisory Group

Paul Allcock, SAIF’s Westminster Government Liaison, and Terry Tennens, Chief Executive, represented SAIF at the bi-annual Burial and Cremation Advisory Group (BCAG) meeting on July 16, chaired by Judith Bernstein of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). Paul has the following updates that are worthy of note for SAIF members.

Medical Examiners NHS England

Jane Crossley (MOJ) reported that NHS England Improvement advised recruitment of medical examiners is taking place among NHS Trusts (Hospitals).

Meanwhile, the legislative architecture is due to be drafted so that medical examiners will become a ‘statutory’ feature of the death certification pathway in England. NHS England Improvement is also exploring a digital solution for the ME system and is testing in Gloucestershire.

Shortage of burial/cemetery space

There is concern that approved burial space across Britain is fast being filled and that some urban centres are within a couple of years of being full.

Red tape issues seem to be preventing new cemeteries from being approved, especially among planning authorities in new town developments.

Direction is sought for the re-use of graves and local authorities and councils are viewed as responsible for this.

A guideline for planning inspectorates is to be developed by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

SAIF members, if you have any data on lack of cemetery space in your region, please send this to the SAIF Business Centre so that SAIF can raise it with the Minister of Justice.


For some time, the ownership of extracted pacemakers has been a grey area. However, NHS England advised that pacemakers are for single use and are part of the estate for the deceased.

SAIF understands that devices can be collected for charitable purposes.

Law Commission

There has been no news of prospective law reforms, for instance, new legislation clarifying ownership where there is conflict among next of kin for the cremated remains of the deceased.

MOJ Cremation Code of Practice

This is being developed with the support of the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities, Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management, Association of Professional Compliance Consultants and the Cremation Society of Great Britain. It will not be a statutory code.

Eyes On, Hands On War Graves Commission

This is a voluntary scheme to attract volunteers to capture images and clean headstones for war graves. A pilot scheme has started in Cornwall and Norfolk.

Find out more here.

Resomation Trial

Brendan Day from FBCA advised that five resomations (water cremation) have been trialled with a working group including the University of Sheffield and the local water board.

It will be peer reviewed to assess the end product of liquid, to assess the process and the findings will be given to the water authorities. Results are anticipated by September.


Legislation is being drafted to allow coroners to investigate in cases where investigation of stillbirths needs to occur. A consultation has taken place with 300 responses currently being analysed by the MOJ.

Notification of Death Regulations

Where certain deaths occur in detention or custody, legislation will become enacted for coroners to investigate and this will become law on October 1 2019.

Children’s Funeral Fund (England)

Claims for funerals occurring on or after 23 July 2019 will cover up to £300 for the coffin plus the grave digger’s fee. Funeral directors have six months to make a claim for these elements of a child’s funeral.

For more info, search ‘Children’s Funeral Fund’ at gov.uk, call 0808 196 1759 (freephone within UK) or +44 1633 630904 (outside UK) or email.

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