The Funeral Service Consumer Standards Review, an independently-chaired, industry-led project focused on improving quality, standards and outcomes for funeral service consumers, has launched the first stage in a two part consultation process, which explores proposals to improve the consumer experience of transparency and standards within the funeral sector.
The first stage of the consultation focuses on standards within the funeral sector, and considers the key principles within a draft industry Code of Practice. The proposals in the document are the outputs of cross-sector working groups, which met across 2019 and included not only funeral professionals, but experts from consumer advocacy and other stakeholders too.
Topics within the first stage of consultation include whether an independent body should be appointed to regulate the funeral directing profession and, if so, what kind of principles should the regulation be based on? The consultation also seeks views as to whether all funeral directors should be required to register with a statutory regulator and whether, until such time as the statutory body is set up, an independent interim body should be established.
Professional development is also discussed in the consultation, with the document asking whether funeral directors should be formally qualified, or have received accredited training – and whether the codes of conduct set out in the draft Code of Practice should also apply to allied professionals such a celebrants, who also work closely with consumers.
Lewis Shand Smith, Chair of the FSCSR, urged funeral firms to help shape the final Code of Practice by participating in the consultation. “We want to hear everyone’s opinion.” he said. “We are committed to ensuring consumers can more easily compare the services and prices of different funeral directors, and feel confident that, no matter which funeral director they eventually choose, they will receive a good standard of service and care for their loved one.”
The deadline for responding to the consultation is midnight on 1 March 2020, giving the FSCSR Stakeholder Reference Group and other interested stakeholders just over a month to participate. For ease of completion, the consultation is broken down into two surveys (completed online), with reference to a detailed consultation document.
The second phase of the consultation, focusing on transparency of information, is expected to be published in February.