Burial or Cremation Without Using The Services of A Funeral Director
46. It is not a legal requirement that people use a funeral director to arrange a funeral. In practice, nearly everyone does use a funeral director, who will liaise with the burial or cremation authority over arrangements. However, bereaved people will sometimes choose to arrange a funeral without using the services of a funeral director.
47. The consultation asked for views on whether the guidance should encourage burial and cremation authorities to make reasonable efforts to accommodate the wishes of such people. The majority of respondents (42, 86%) agreed that this provision should be included. Five (10%) did not.
48. Concerns were raised about whether this would make it more difficult to monitor compliance with health and safety standards. For example, whether the construction of coffins met the standards required for safe cremation or whether unintentional hazards were caused through placing items (such as bottles of spirits) in coffins, or failing to remove items (such as pacemakers), either of which may explode during cremation. While the Scottish Government recognises these concerns, the guidance is clear that accepting funerals that do not make use of the services of a funeral director is at the discretion of each burial or cremation authority. Individual authorities can make their own assessment of the risks involved before making a decision.
49. There were also concerns that families or individuals opting not to use a funeral director might find themselves unable to care for the deceased properly, ultimately leading to more distress and potentially to public health risks. While we acknowledge this possibility, discussions with stakeholders suggest that when people decide to arrange a funeral without a funeral director it is seldom for financial reasons. The guidance includes this measure in order to reduce barriers and to increase choice, not to promote self-arranged funerals as a solution to funeral poverty. Discussions have also suggested that some people will arrange a funeral using a funeral director for only certain services, such as care of the deceased person. We have altered the wording of this measure to acknowledge this.
50. Although local authorities were largely supportive of the inclusion of these provisions in the guidance, some sought greater clarity on the level of support and advice burial or cremation authorities would be expected to provide. Some local authorities had concerns about additional resource implications, given that families are likely to have very little experience of the practicalities. We will consider this matter further during the implementation of the guidance.