In this section you will find the latest news and campaign updates from the National Association of Funeral Directors.
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Following the written statement today (11 June 2018) by Lord O’Shaughnessy, Minister at the Department of Health, outlining the Government’s long-awaited response to the 2016 consultation into death certification procedures, Past President Nigel Lymn Rose – who has campaigned for change to these outdated and confusing procedures for many years, on behalf of the NAFD – said:
“Having waited for two years for the Government’s proposals to make death certification more consistent, and less distressing and confusing for grieving families, we find ourselves still waiting – as the Government has decided to defer any substantive reforms of certification procedures for at least another year, while focusing instead on internal matters such as introducing Medical Examiners into the NHS, a role which is designed to root out malpractice.
The announcement, which only applies to England at present, also only focuses on deaths in hospital whereas, in reality, the greater concern is the deaths of those that die outside an NHS setting. We welcome the news there will be no additional public charge for the Medical Examiner’s service in this first phase, but the Department of Health warns in the document that the service will at some point need to be funded, indicating that bereaved families are likely to continue to be charged, it will be extended to burials as well as cremations, and funeral directors will be expected to collect it.
“In our view, the Department of Health has let the public down. Faced with the death of a loved one, or the knowledge that one is imminent, families will have to continue to have to quickly decide whether the person they love will be buried or cremated – a somewhat brutal question which is often extremely distressing for them – in order to negotiate one of two entirely different certification routes in order to get a Medical Certificate of Cause of death (MCCD) and be able to arrange the funeral. We have campaigned for years for these procedures to be more straightforward and respectful of the needs of bereaved people and it is infuriating that the government has chosen to avoid progressing these vital reforms again.”
The NAFD has welcomed the announcements, this morning, of a HM Treasury consultation regarding changes to the regulation of pre-paid funeral plans and a Competition & Markets Authority investigation into whether the information provided by funeral directors on prices and services is clear enough for people to be able to choose the best option for them.
The NAFD has been encouraging greater visibility of pricing for several years, with a significant number of NAFD members now publishing their prices online. At the recent NAFD Conference in Durham, the Association announced the development of a new website for the public, set to be launched in July, on which NAFD funeral directors will be encouraged to publish service and pricing information.
The Association has an ongoing dialogue with the Competitions & Markets Authority and we are pleased to see that key points we have raised with them are reflected in their announcement. The Association has also called for tighter regulation of funeral plan sales and recently wrote to Treasury Minister John Glen setting out its concerns.
We are studying today’s announcements carefully. We have been invited, and look forward to, participating in the consultation process.
Today (26 April 2018), the NAFD welcomed the second Fairer Finance report into how the sale of funeral plans should be regulated, having been involved in shaping its findings, and set out the Association’s preferred options for the future regulation of the sector.
In launching the report, which was sponsored by Co-op Funeralcare, Dignity, Ecclesiastical and Golden Charter, James Daly of Fairer Finance said: “There is not enough protection for customers buying pre-paid funeral plans. These products can cost several thousand pounds and, crucially, the customer won’t be around to see whether the promises made to them have been kept. We’re concerned that a small but significant minority of businesses in this sector are taking too much in commission and administration fees and may not be putting enough aside to keep the promises they have made to customers.
The Scottish Parliament has signalled the first step to fairness, voting to introduce index-linked funeral payments, signalling a major step forward in the fight to help bereaved families.
The NAFD, which has been campaigning strongly for the move at Holyrood and Westminster for a number of years, welcomed the news from Edinburgh. Interim CEO Graham Lymn said he hoped politicians at Westminster would now follow suit and look at linking funeral payments to inflation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
A new report, highlighted in today’s Daily Mail (How cheap funeral plans flogged online leave families facing a nasty bill), has highlighted concerns, shared by the National Association of Funeral Directors, about the pressure selling tactics of sales agents acting for less scrupulous funeral plan providers.
Funeral plans can provide peace of mind to families that funeral costs will be taken care of, when the time comes – and there are many excellent funeral plans available to buy from highly reputable firms. However, the NAFD has been concerned, for some time, that agents acting for less scrupulous funeral plan companies are subjecting vulnerable people to pressure selling tactics and, in some cases, funeral plans are being sold that will not adequately cover the costs of the chosen funeral.
The NAFD strongly advises the public to talk directly to funeral directors about their funeral plan needs – and to check that any funeral plan provider they are considering abides by the Funeral Planning Authority’s standards and scrutiny requirements.
The NAFD has appointed Graham Lymn as interim Chief Executive Officer. Graham is a former NAFD National President, with six years’ experience serving on the Association’s Executive Committee and, prior to that, he served as President of the Funeral Standards Council as well as President of the Co-operative Funeral Service Managers’ Association.
Graham, who started in his role today (2 April), is expected to lead the Association for six to nine months. Part of the role will be assisting the Officer team with recruitment of a permanent incumbent and providing an extensive handover, enabling the new recruit to quickly understand the unique challenges of the funeral profession.
Following the broadcast of tonight’s Hunted and Confronted programme on Channel 5, in which an independent funeral plan sales representative went ‘off script’ and appeared to put pressure on an elderly lady to buy a plan which might not have met all of her needs, the NAFD would like to draw attention to its Five Step Guide to Buying a Funeral Plan.
The National Association of Funeral Directors believes that funeral plans can have an important role to play in terms of helping people to not only plan for and off-set the cost of their funeral, but also to remove some of the uncertainty and distress for families in knowing that they are arranging the funeral that their loved one would have wanted. However it is important to ensure the plan you buy is right for you and will cover what you need it to when the time comes.
The battle to introduce open-air funeral pyres in the UK is heating up again after a council was challenged to provide a facility to meet the religious beliefs of local people. In 2010, the Court of Appeal ruled that open cremations were legal in England and Wales as long as they met a strict set of criteria. Now a council in the north east of England is being challenged to provide a facility, or at least grant planning permission to allow one to be built.
In the latest round of a long-running battle with his local authority, Davender Ghai, a devout Hindu, said he would be stepping up his campaign, which first began in 2006. The 80-year-old believes there should be a dedicated site for open-air cremations for the Hindu community and anyone of any faith or background who would wish to use it.
It’s International Women’s Day (8 March 2018) and the National Association of Funeral Directors would like to take this opportunity to recognise the dedication of thousands of female funeral directors and arrangers across the UK and our colleagues across the rest of the world, who are caring for families and those they’ve lost, day-in-day-out.
Once a rarity in what was previously a traditionally male-dominated profession, female funeral directors now stand shoulder to shoulder with their male colleagues, across the country, working together to help families say farewell to those that have died.
We’d also like to take this opportunity celebrate the leadership of NAFD President Alison Crake and Vice President, Abi Pattenden, who will succeed Alison in May. Alison is a funeral director on Teesside who also chairs our Board of Education and Abi is a funeral director in Sussex who chairs the Association’s Membership Committee. It’s the very first time that we’ve had two female presidents in a row, in 112-years of the Association’s history, may there be many more in the future!
Many congratulations also to Jenny Gilbert, of AJ Adkinson in Leicestershire, who was recently elected Midlands Area President of the NAFD.
We’re recruiting for a Standards and Quality Manager, North of England & Northern Ireland (field-based)
- c£30,000 per annum + company car.
- Full time
The National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD), which represents the interests of the funeral profession, has an opportunity for a dynamic individual to take on the crucial role of Standards and Quality Manager covering the north of England and Northern Ireland.