Funeral director licensing scheme: consultation analysis report

Analysis report of our consultation on the funeral director licensing scheme for Scotland.

Executive Summary

Between 25 August and 17 November 2023 the Scottish Government undertook an online consultation on its proposals for a licensing scheme under sections 94 and 95 of the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016 (‘the 2016 Act’). The consultation was comprised of 14 questions, and collected information in both survey and open-ended comment format. The analysis of responses was conducted in late 2023/early 2024.

The purpose of this consultation was to seek views on proposals for regulations for funeral director licensing, which, if implemented, would create a licensing regime for funeral directors[1]. The proposals contained within the consultation are an essential step in ensuring that a modern and comprehensive regulatory framework for the funeral sector in Scotland is realised.

The consultation received 32 responses (26 from organisations and 6 from individuals).

The consultation was published as part of a collection of four consultations relating to the content of various sets of regulations that are intended to be made under sections of the 2016 Act which have not yet been implemented. They related to:

Main Findings

Overall, there was strong support for the proposals for the intended licensing scheme. Responses often focussed on the role licensing would play in ensuring the public receive high standards of care and have confidence in the sector.

Key points from the consultation responses are as follows:

  • The majority of respondents indicated support for the proposal that Scottish Ministers would be designated as the ‘licensing authority’. Reasons for this provided in comments included a sense of consistency that would be brought by this proposal, and the contribution it could make to maintaining high standards and public confidence in the sector.
  • The majority of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the proposal for the Scottish Government to maintain a directory of licensed funeral director businesses in Scotland which would be searchable on the Scottish Government website. Respondent comments noted how a public directory could help ensure the public had confidence in the sector.
  • The majority of respondents were supportive of the proposal to require each funeral director business to name a “compliance officer”. Additional comments included that this role may be helpful for businesses operationally, providing a clear link for communication and ensuring standards are met.
  • The majority of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that a licence should be valid for a time-limited period. The majority of respondents selected that three years (the Scottish Government’s proposal) was an appropriate time for a licence to last. Some respondents offered additional reasons for this support, which mainly expressed that 3 years would strike an appropriate balance between supporting ongoing good practice and not overburdening businesses with more frequent renewal processes.
  • It is proposed that the regulations to be developed will provide for the suspension and revocation of funeral director business licences. A majority of respondents were supportive of the proposals. Several respondents did comment, however, that they would like further detail on the proposed approach in order to better understand the implications, including timings of suspensions as well as what mitigations would be put in place to ensure there was not abuse of the suspension or revocation process. Further, several respondents expressed concern about the impact that suspension or revocation of licences would have on bereaved families, those providing and holding pre-paid funeral plans, and on rural communities with fewer alternative service providers.
  • One question asked, if a person has had their licence revoked, how long they should be required to wait before being allowed to apply for a new licence. In response, the majority of respondents selected ‘Other’, as opposed to selecting a specific time period. In additional comments, respondents explained that the period required to wait between licence revocation and application for a new licence should vary depending on the circumstances and reasons for the revocation.
  • The majority of respondents broadly agreed with the Scottish Government’s proposals to charge a fee at the time of a licence application and licence renewal for funeral director businesses. Comments received about the fee included ensuring that this was kept as low as possible and, that the fee should be charged only to account for the cost of the administration of the licensing scheme itself.

Next Steps

Following this analysis of the consultation responses, the Scottish Government will further consider the proposals for the intended licensing scheme in its development of licensing regulations. The results of this analysis will also be considered in conjunction with the responses received to the other three public consultations which were published in Autumn 2023.

Before laying a draft of the licensing regulations before the Scottish Parliament, section 105 of the 2016 Act requires the Scottish Ministers to prepare, and then consult on, a draft of the licensing regulations. Following this consultation, which Scottish Ministers intend to prepare in due course, section 105 also requires any draft licensing regulations laid before the Scottish Parliament to be accompanied by a document summarising the consultation responses and describing any changes made to the draft regulations following the consultation.



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