Delays between death and burial or cremation debated in Parliament

Yesterday (3 May) Mark Pawsey MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Funerals and Bereavement (APPG), secured parliamentary time to debate the persistent and growing delays between death and burial or cremation.

This follows publication of the Group’s report into funeral delays in March this year. In the report, the APPG reported on fourteen key recommendations, which seek to tackle the increasing time between death and burial or cremation.

In 2015, the APPG held an inquiry, instigated by the late Paul Goggins MP, which covered key areas including the registration of a death, coroners’ investigations, the funeral industry, and capacity in cemeteries and crematoria. The Group took evidence from a range of industry experts including bereavement services, faith groups, funeral directors, pathologists, and coroners’ staff.

After the debate Mark Pawsey said, “I was delighted to be able to highlight the issues in the APPG report and to provide the Minister with an opportunity to update the House on the work of the Government in this area. It is widely acknowledged that there is an increasing amount of time between a person dying and their subsequent burial or cremation and as Chair of the APPG I want to see some progress. Bereaved families must be placed at the heart of this and delays can seriously impact on the grieving process and cause unnecessary costs and inconvenience at an already very difficult time.”

In 2015 a survey of the NAFD’s members in England and Wales revealed that families were waiting increasingly long to see a registrar after a death. Almost 70% of members reported that waiting times had increased over the previous year with 49% of families waiting at least three days for an appointment and 15% waiting more than five days. A survey this month of NAFD members revealed a complex picture in terms of the effectiveness of Coronial Services across England and Wales, with only 41% describing their local Coronial service as good or very good, 30% describing their local Coroner as providing a satisfactory service and 27% describing the service as unsatisfactory or very unsatisfactory.

NAFD President William Millar said: “I would like to congratulate Mark and the APPG members, including the group’s former chair, Baroness Burt of Solihull, for their persistence in bringing the importance of this issue to the attention of their fellow MPs. A funeral is an important part of coming to terms with loss and for administrative delays to get in the way of the grieving process is simply unacceptable. Sadly, our members across England and Wales are telling us that this is increasingly proving to be the case. We urge MPs to back the APPG’s report and explore ways of improving the processes that are causing so much pain to so many people.”