As today’s meeting of the Funeral Service Consumer Standards Review Working Group B (the Transparency Working Group) gets underway, we are delighted to share the thoughts of another respondent to the invitation to comment issued by the FSCSR on the Friday before the Bank Holiday weekend.
Today’s contribution is from Fran Glover and Carrie Weekes of A Natural Undertaking.
NB: The as yet unpublicised members of the FSCSR Transparency Working Group may wish to consider some of the questions posed below.
Dear Mr Shand Smith
We were hoping to get this email to you by Friday 30th but as a small independent funeral director we have been incredibly busy.
We write in relation to the call for views from non-trade association affiliated funeral directors. We were alerted to this by two of the FSCSR members, Poppy Mardell and Sarah Jones, and whilst we are members of SAIF feel we have some questions about this group that we would like to ask independently.
We are a progressive and passionate funeral director, working hard to provide a high quality and personal service to the people who come to us. We welcome the government review of the funeral industry and the independent perspective that they will bring.
For ease and the sake of brevity we list our questions below:
- Can you help us understand what this group hopes to achieve that is not already within the remit of the government appointed CMA team, and why it would be doing this work ahead of the CMA timetable for delivery or any recommendations that come out of it? This feels confusing for someone in the industry, let alone a member of the public who may not be quite so familiar with what is currently taking place.
- We would like to understand how the group plans to deliver an impartial, independent response where most members of the steering group are heavily invested in any remedies which will be prescribed? (Key members being NAFD, SAIF, COOP and Dignity who all manage or deliver a large proportion of funerals currently)
- We would also like to understand where the legitimacy of this group originates. Our understanding is that this is not a government appointed group, so where does the authority to call itself a consumer review group stem from?
- Assuming a funeral director expresses interest in taking part, we would like to know what that actually means? Will those funeral directors have a seat at the table to discuss the challenges, or is it merely to ‘review’ and ‘comment’ upon the work that the FSCSR discuss? To what extent would their views be incorporated into any remedies?
We would also like to comment on the timeframe given for this call out – if the request for views is genuine then it would seem that an 8 day period over a bank holiday is way too tight a timeframe for people to hear about it, consider their position and then respond. Our own constraints and workload have meant that we have been unable to reply with a considered response within the stated timeframe.
- Finally, since this is named as a consumer review group, it would be good to understand how and where the views of the consumer are represented within this group? We understand that consumer bodies will be consulted but surely there should be an independent consumer body on the steering group, working on this from the outset?
The changes that could take place as a result of any work being done in this arena are so important that we hope you therefore understand why we are asking these questions, and we look forward to hearing your responses.
Fran Glover and Carrie Weekes