Current Affairs

Parliamentarians discuss funeral issues

At the latest All Party Parliamentary Funerals and Bereavement Group meeting in Westminster, one of the key topics under discussion was the release of the deceased from hospital.

The Parliamentary Group was informed that funeral directors are having to deal with an increasing number of NHS hospitals that insist upon being provided with the Registrar’s Certificate of Burial or Cremation before they allow the collection of the deceased from the mortuary. This practice is causing both delays to the removals and further upset for bereaved families that are yet to finalise funeral arrangements.

Due to these concerns, the Group is seeking a meeting with Anne Milton MP, the Health Minister who has a responsibility for public health, to find a way of resolving the problem.

Other issues debated were the Welfare Reform Bill and Social Fund budgeting loans, and changes to death certification.

The Welfare Reform Bill is now an Act of Parliament under which budgeting loans will be extended to include funeral expenses and made available to people on low incomes. The Bill received royal assent on 8 March, and the loans are due to come into force two months after this date.

Parliamentarians are eager to know how the details of the Bill are to be communicated by the Government, so they have written to Steve Webb MP, the Minister at the Department for Work and Pensions with responsibility for the Social Fund, to find out how the loans will be administered and publicised.

Previously delayed revisions to the death certification process were also covered, and the Group is seeking discussions with Ms Milton, after it was revealed that further set-backs mean the implementation of the reforms is now scheduled for 1 October 2013.

Chief executive officer of the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) Alan Slater said: “We are pleased that the All Party Parliamentary Funerals and Bereavement Group is addressing a number of important issues that are of concern to the profession,” and that “it is important that funeral directors understand how budgeting loans work in practice.”

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