Eight days ago (three of which were over a bank holiday weekend), funeral directors who don’t belong to either of the funeral trade associations were invited to get in touch with the Funeral Service Consumer Standards Review – the self appointed body founded by Dignity PLC that is looking at ‘quality, standards and outcomes for funeral service consumers’.
The independent chair wrote on the FSCSR website “If you are a member of SAIF or NAFD, then they have a seat at the table to represent your views – but we really want to make sure that non-trade association affiliated funeral directors also have the opportunity to express their thoughts.
So, if you are a funeral director who is not a member of a trade association and would like to contribute your views on how to improve funeral care (or express your specific concerns about current standards, or possible regulation in the industry), then please get in touch with email@example.com by Friday 30 August.”
This invitation was also tweeted out to the 71 followers of the FSCSR account.
So, unless non trade association affiliated funeral directors happened upon the FSCSR website (why would they?), or followed the FSCSR Twitter account (followers seem to be organisations, heads of organisations and a smattering of individuals) then non trade association affiliated funeral directors are largely, we would guess, unaware of this opportunity to have their voices heard by those who comprise the FSCSR.
This is unfortunate.
Because in due course, and before the CMA comes up with their findings from their Market Investigation into the funeral sector, the FSCSR will be seeking “to identify the extent to which the recommendations of HM Inspector of Funerals could be usefully implemented as a statutory system in the rest of the United Kingdom. The FSCSR’s findings and any recommendations will then be presented to Government stakeholders.”
The self appointed group has set up two working groups – one of which has been working for some time on ‘a) a robust and comprehensive code of practice for the funeral directing profession (output 1); and b) an agreed list of premises inspection requirements, to be enforced by both major trade associations (Output 2), and the other particularly focusing on ‘how transparency in relation to services offered, the standard of those services and pricing could be improved‘. (This second FSCSR group, the ‘transparency working group’ has not as yet identified the members who are sitting on it. Which is ironic)
Both working groups are chaired by the former Inspector of Funerals in Scotland, Natalie McKail.
Ms McKail actually left post in June this year.
The post of Inspector of Funerals in Scotland is currently vacant.
There is no HM Inspector of Funerals in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. And now neither is there one in Scotland.
The citation of Ms McKail’s role as a member of the FSCSR Steering Committee in this document on the FSCSR website, dated July 2019 and noting her as ‘HM Inspector of Funerals’ is therefore factually incorrect and somewhat misleading.
Anyway, we digress.
Non trade association affiliated funeral directors who are tempted to get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org might be interested to note that they will be in fact be sharing their thoughts with the FSCSR Secretariat, which is helpfully being provided by the two funeral trade associations which they have chosen not to join.
(We know of at least one non trade association affiliated funeral director who was not willing to be identified in their letter to the independent chair of the FSCSR as they were concerned about confidentiality, given that the e-mail was landing in an inbox at NAFD).
They might also want to get their skates on. As today is the 30th August and the deadline set for contacting the FSCSR.
Despite the group having been formed in November last year, and the work to attempt to put right the mess that is funeral world having been ongoing since then.
Or, they might do exactly what we have done, and make contact with the CMA directly to express their thoughts about the funeral sector in general, and why they have not chosen to be part of a trade association.
One progressive funeral director has done both – you can read the letter that Louise Winter sent to the independent chair of the FSCSR yesterday here: Letter to Lewis Shand Smith – 29th August 2019
Go on, make a cup of tea and have a read.
You’ve got less than 12 hours to respond anyway.
And we think Louise has said it all.