Transparency of Cremation Charges
31. The draft guidance defined a standard cremation service to help consumers compare like with like across providers, and proposed that all crematoriums should base their standard cremation service charge on the following common set of components:
- Cremation fee
- Mercury abatement fee (where applicable)
- Provision of container for ashes
- Cremation certificate
- Provision of chapel / service room
- Administration and processing of forms
This definition was created in consultation with representatives of public and private crematoriums.
32. Views on whether or not this definition was useful and how it could be improved were mixed. Only 22 (45%) respondents felt that it captured all necessary elements and almost a third suggested that additions or amendments were required. Nearly a quarter of respondents either did not answer the question or indicated that they were unsure.
33. The main areas where greater clarification was sought were around the interment of ashes, the provision of music services, time allowed for the service and extra charges for services at weekends. Concerns were also raised that some businesses may begin to charge for services currently included in their standard fee but which were not in the Scottish Government's definition.
34. Some responses argued that not everybody needs to use the service room at a crematorium, particularly if they have already held a service elsewhere, and that this should be advertised as an additional, optional cost. The Scottish Government has considered this suggestion but we are concerned that it could give rise to a perception that the guidance is encouraging the promotion of direct cremation as the industry standard.
35. Some responses suggested that rather than defining a standard cremation service, the Government should be encouraging a full itemised price list of the cost of all services provided by a crematorium. We have concluded that while this may ensure transparency, it may not make the cost of arranging a cremation service easier to understand, as consumers would need to decide which components to purchase and then add up the cost of each.
36. The range of views has been difficult to reconcile and consensus is unlikely to be achieved. In light of this, we have removed this definition from the guidance and instead recommended that cremation authorities make clear which costs are mandatory for a cremation service to take place and which are optional services which can be purchased for an additional charge. We think that this achieves our original intention of making it easier for consumers to be able to compare charges and make informed choices.