The National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) and Lorely Burt MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Funerals and Bereavement Group (APPG) in Westminster, have successfully halted an attempt by Birmingham City Council to introduce a £20 charge for the release of bodies from Birmingham Central Mortuary and a £50 charge to funeral directors if they require a written invoice.
Solihull-based NAFD made representations about the charges to Birmingham City Council and Helen Grant MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, at the end of last year. Following these representations, the Council put the implementation of the charge on hold.
The Chair of the APPG, Lorely Burt MP, also raised concerns about the charges with Ministry of Justice Minister Helen Grant MP. In a significant development, Ms Burt has been informed by the Ministry of Justice that Sections 22 and 26 of the Coroners Act 1988 required that Local Authorities must fund the expense of a post-mortem examination made at the request of the Coroner as well as associated with an inquest. The charge proposed by Birmingham City Council would, therefore, not be lawful.
The Ministry of Justice has also confirmed that officials at the Department have discussed the charges with Birmingham City Council and they have been withdrawn.
NAFD Chief Executive Officer, Alan Slater, stated: “I am delighted that, with the support of Lorely Burt in her role as both a West Midlands MP and chair of the All Party Group, the implementation of this unfair charge has been halted that would have hit both funeral directors and bereaved families.”
Lorely Burt MP stated: “I am grateful to the NAFD, who are based in my constituency, for alerting me to charges proposed by Birmingham City Council that would have put additional costs to the bereaved. I’m pleased that the Ministry of Justice has ruled that these charges were unlawful and that they have been withdrawn.”