The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) has said England, Wales and Northern Ireland should follow in Scotland’s footsteps and introduce regulation of the funeral profession.
SAIF claims it is the first significant funeral trade association in the UK to back statutory regulation of funeral directors. The association has also urged its members with websites to display their prices online as soon as possible to help bereaved consumers better understand possible costs involved with a funeral.
The association’s position on regulation is in response to the positive and proportionate way in which regulation is being introduced in Scotland, and comes in the wake of a small number of worrying cases in which funeral directors have fallen short of standards to which trade association members subscribe.
Terry Tennens, chief executive of SAIF, said it was “high time” all bereaved people across the UK were guaranteed a minimum set of standards from the “professionals taking care of them at life’s most difficult time”.
In respect of online pricing, Tennens said SAIF’s leadership was set to discuss a commonly agreed set of funeral elements that would appear on a price list, to better help consumers make like-for-like comparisons. It will consult its members and the whole profession on topics such as price transparency, care facilities and financial stability.
Following a consultation exercise, SAIF is to write to the Westminster government, Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies, stating its position on regulation of the funeral profession across all jurisdictions.
Tennens said: “Currently, anyone can set up a funeral directing business and there is no requirement for them to work to a minimum set of standards. Trade associations require their members to abide by a code of practice, but membership is voluntary and we are seeing too many cases of firms who don’t belong to an association operating in an unacceptable way.
“All other care industries are regulated, so there is no reason why funeral directors to whom people turn in great distress should not be subjected to similar rules. The vast majority of SAIF members share concerns about standards and support regulation of the funeral profession.”