Statutory inspection of burial authorities, cremation authorities and funeral directors

A Scottish Government consultation on the proposed statutory inspection of burial authorities, cremation authorities and funeral directors in Scotland.

Section 3 - Routine Inspections of Funeral Directors: Number of premises inspected

87. The Scottish Government is seeking views on the approach to handling routine inspections for funeral director businesses with a large number of premises.[9]

88. Some funeral director businesses in Scotland have many premises (more than 10), and a small minority have an even higher number of premises (more than 100). The Scottish Government’s current Inspectors estimate that it presently takes approximately one working day for an Inspector to complete an inspection of a single-premises funeral director business. For a large business with over 100 premises, it is anticipated that it would take a single Inspector a number of months to complete their inspection of all premises in the business.

89. This issue was not discussed in the 2017 inspection regulations consultation. It was discussed with funeral director stakeholders at the Licensing Regulations Working Group in April 2023. Their preference is noted below.

90. Please see below for the two options currently under consideration.

Option A – All premises of large businesses inspected

91. In this approach, where a funeral director business has more than one premises, each of these premises would be subject to inspection when a routine inspection is occurring.

92. The key reason to require the inspection of each premises is this would apply equal inspection requirements to both large and small businesses. If large businesses are only subject to inspection of some of their premises, while small businesses are required to have all premises inspected, this may be perceived by some as inconsistent or unfair. Additionally, this approach would ensure that every premises in a business is assessed for whether they are meeting the required standards, which is only possible if each one is inspected. Furthermore, it would allow inspectors and the licensing authority (see licensing consultation) to have a comprehensive understanding of the operations of the whole business in making any decisions or recommendations.

93. A consequence of this approach is that where a routine inspection of a business with a very high number of premises is occurring, inspections will likely occur over a period of weeks or months (depending on the number of premises involved). This will take a significant amount of inspector time, in an environment in which there will be a finite number of inspectors with capacity that will need to be divided across the funeral sector. Additionally, this will create a large burden on those businesses to support the inspection process across a number of weeks/months.

94. Further, it is intended that determination of initial licence applications and renewal applications will be informed by an inspection (see licensing consultation). Requiring inspection of all premises would require a longer period of time between the time of the application being submitted to the licensing authority and the time a decision on the application can be made. This approach might lead to situations where the number of inspectors is insufficient to carry out all inspections without any delay, and applications which are relying on these inspections might wait longer for a decision.

95. Finally, this approach has an implication for possible licence application and licence renewal fees. It is being proposed (see licensing consultation) that these fees will help to recover costs associated with processing applications and renewal applications (including the costs of the inspections which would be triggered by these applications). If a greater number of premises are being inspected for the purposes of informing the licence or renewal application, the fees associated with the relevant application will be higher than if fewer premises were inspected.

96. We note that Option A is the expressed preference of the Licensing Regulations Working Group.

Option B – Multi-premises businesses subject to inspections of randomly selected premises

97. Under this approach, when a routine inspection is being undertaken for funeral director businesses, those with a low number of premises (e.g. 10 or less) would still have all their premises inspected. However, where a licence covers a high number of premises (e.g. more than 10), it is proposed that only a certain percentage of the business’s premises would be inspected (although a minimum number to be inspected, e.g. 10, would be set). We would welcome your views as to what percentage you would consider appropriate to apply in these circumstances.

98. If Option B is pursued the possible percentage of premises to be inspected is still to be determined, however examples include 25%, 50%, and 75% of premises. The locations of the premises to be inspected would be randomly selected by Inspectors. Further, the business would only be informed which premises were to be inspected a short time in advance (e.g. a few days), with the intention that this would mean they need to keep all premises up to standards in case any of them were selected for inspection. However, it is noted that these businesses may still be able to avoid having their non-compliance brought to light (if there is any), if it occurs at premises that are not selected for inspection.

99. Advantages of this approach may be the lower Inspector capacity required to undertake routine inspections (and thus lower overall cost of running the inspection regime). Additionally, this may lower the burden on multi-premised funeral director businesses in terms of ‘hosting’ inspectors through the entire inspection process of their randomly-selected premises. Further, if routine inspections are linked to licence applications and renewal applications, as intended, the following advantages may result: (a) lower licence application fees for funeral director businesses, since a lower number of licence application-related inspections could mean less cost recovery through these inspections, and (b) possible avoidance of delays to determining licence applications or renewal applications, given less Inspector time would be required.

100. Disadvantages of this approach may include: (a) it may not be perceived as fair to businesses with a lower number of premises, who would be subject to scrutiny of all their premises, and (b) it may be perceived as less protective of the deceased and the public since it may provide less confidence that all funeral director premises, at the time of routine inspections, are compliant with required standards.

Question 10 - Which option presented above do you prefer?

Option A

Option B


Don’t know

Question 11 - If Option B is pursued by the Scottish Government, please select the percentage of premises you think should be randomly selected for inspection.

25% of premises

50% of premises

75% of premises

Other % of premises (please state a %):

Don’t know

Question 12 - Please provide reasons for your selection above, and any other comments you wish to make.



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