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Cremation regulations update 2016

Cremation Regulations Update

Funeral Plan Quotes

Funeral Plan Quotes

Written Ministerial Statement made by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Victims, Youth and Family Justice, Dr Phillip Lee.

I am today announcing that new regulations regarding cremation in England and Wales have been laid before Parliament. The Cremation (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 will come into effect on 1 October 2016.We are making these changes following our recent response to our consultation on cremation, published on 7 July 2016, in which we committed to make a number of changes to infant cremation regulations and practice.

The regulations laid today introduce a statutory definition of ashes. They also remove the current requirement that cremation authorities must keep original paper records for two years, even though they have also made electronic copies of those records.

These changes will provide clarity for bereaved parents at a difficult time in their lives, and modernise processes for crematoria.In addition I would like to announce that, as also promised in the consultation response, we have now set up a National Cremation Working Group.The group is made up of representatives from the cremation and funeral industries, voluntary organisations who support bereaved parents, medical professionals and other government departments with an interest in cremation.In the coming months it will provide expert input into our work to further improve cremation legislation and practice.

The group’s first priority will be amending statutory application forms regarding options for disposal of ashes, and bringing the cremation of foetuses of less than 24 weeks’ gestation into the remit of the cremation regulations.

The older cremation regulations are here.

Improving infant cremation legislation and practice has been a priority for me since I joined the Ministry of Justice last year. I am therefore very pleased to publish this document which sets out the changes we plan to make following our recent consultation.

We consulted following David Jenkins’ June 2015 report into infant cremations at Emstrey Crematorium in Shropshire, and Lord Bonomy’s Scottish Infant Cremation Commission (ICC) report of June 2014.

These reports found that ashes were either not recovered following infant cremations, or that ashes were recovered but parents were neither consulted over what should happen to the ashes nor advised of the location of their babies’ ashes. Such practices caused parents immense distress in addition to their grief following the loss of their babies.

Talking to some of these parents has shown me only too clearly how not knowing what happened has prevented them from coming to terms with their loss, even decades later. Sadly, some of them will never know what happened to their babies’ ashes. Some of the steps the Government is taking to improve cremation regulation and practice build on the improvements many cremation authorities and funeral directors have already made since the publication of the ICC and Emstrey reports.

In particular we will make the following changes: 

  • We will provide a statutory definition of ‘ashes’. This will make clear that everything cremated with a baby including personal items and clothing must be recovered. 
  • We will amend cremation application forms to make explicit the applicant’s wishes in relation to ashes that are recovered. Cremations will take place only after applicants are consulted about their wishes, and there is a record of their decision. 
  • We will bring the cremation of foetuses of less than 24 weeks’ gestation within the scope of regulation. There will be equivalent safeguards and audit trails for parents who cremate following a pregnancy loss as for parents who cremate after a stillbirth or death of a baby. 
  • We will establish a national working group of cremation experts to advise us on:
  1. the detail of application forms;
  2. the regulation of cremations of foetuses of less than 24 weeks’ gestation;
  3. codes of practice and training for crematorium staff;
  4. information for bereaved parents; and
  5. whether there should be an inspector of crematoria.

It is our aim that these measures will ensure that no bereaved parents suffer in future as many have suffered in the past.

Caroline Dinenage Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Family Justice

Infant Cremations Ministers Statement

Written Ministerial Statement on Infant Cremations made by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Family Justice, Caroline Dinenage.

Today the government is publishing its response to the recent consultation on infant cremations, which sought views on proposals for a number of changes to the Cremation (England and Wales) Regulations 2008, and for improving other aspects of cremation practice.

Improving infant cremation legislation and practice has been a priority for me since I joined the Ministry of Justice last year. I am therefore very pleased to publish this document which sets out the changes we plan to make.

Funeral Plan Quotes

Funeral Plan Quotes

We consulted between December 2015 and March 2016 following consideration of David Jenkins’ report of June 2015 into infant cremations at Emstrey Crematorium in Shropshire, and Lord Bonomy’s Scottish Infant Cremation Commission report of June 2014. These reports found that ashes were either not recovered following infant cremations, or were recovered but parents were neither consulted over what should happen to their babies’ ashes nor advised of the ashes’ final resting place.

Such practices caused parents already grieving the loss of their baby immense additional distress. Some parents will never know what happened to their babies’ ashes.

I have always made it clear that such practices should never happen again. It is my aim that the changes I am announcing today will ensure that no bereaved parent suffers in future as many have suffered in the past.

Following consideration of the responses to our consultation, we plan to make the following changes:

  • Introduce a statutory definition of ashes.
  • Amend statutory cremation forms to make sure that applicants’ wishes in relation to recovered ashes are explicit and clearly recorded before a cremation takes place.
  • Where parents choose a cremation following a pregnancy loss of a foetus of less than 24 weeks’ gestation, we will bring such cremations into the scope of our regulations, like all other cremations. I must stress that we have no plans to alter parents’ current choices following a pre-24 week pregnancy loss, so parents will continue to be able to choose between cremation, burial and sensitive incineration or they can ask the hospital to make all arrangements on their behalf.
  • Establish a national cremation working group of experts to advise us on a number of technical matters related to our proposed reforms, such as the detail of new regulations and forms, codes of practice and training for cremation authority staff, information for bereaved parents, and whether there should be an inspector of crematoria.

Copies of the consultation response document will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The response is also available at

Co-op Funerals – an odd thing to do

Co-op Funerals agree sale of crematoria as it focuses on core funeral homes business.

Funeral Plan Quotes

Funeral Plan Quotes

Stephen Pett of the Prepaid Funeral Review says “This is an odd move by the Co-op Funerals division.  Why on earth would you sell major assets to your biggest competitor. And then be forced to use them anyway. See if you think this Press Release answers the question satisfactorily. We remain concerned about the effectiveness of the Co-operative model in the modern world – with regret.”

Co-op Funeralcare (“Co-op”) has agreed to sell its crematoria operation to Dignity Plc (“Dignity”.) As the mutual focuses on investment in its core funeral homes business.

Co-op Funerals

Co-op Funerals

Co-op will receive £43m* for the five crematoria. The proceeds will be reinvested in its funeral home estate. In addition to strengthening its customer offer through the rollout of new products and services.  This forms part of the £1.3 billion planned investment being made by the Co-op Group over a three year period.  Seeking to improve the products and services available to its members and the communities in which they live.

As part of the conditions of the crematoria sale, which follows a competitive bidding process, all colleagues will TUPE transfer.  There are no planned redundancies.

Co-op Funerals Crematoria – going.

Co-op’s crematoria are based in Craighton, Glasgow; Emstrey, Shropshire; Grenoside, South Yorkshire; Lichfield, Staffordshire; and Stockport, Greater Manchester.

Richard Lancaster, Managing Director of Co-op Funeralcare said.

“I would like to personally thank our crematoria colleagues for their ongoing professionalism and hard work in serving bereaved families. I wish them the very best for the future as they continue to provide excellent levels of service within their local communities.

“This agreement is key in allowing us to further invest in providing essential funeral services to our members and customers in communities across the UK as we have done for over 100 years. With a limited presence in the overall market, our crematoria operation is a small part of our business, operating distinctly and separately from our funeral homes. The sale will enable us to invest in making our funeral home services more accessible, both in terms of our presence in new communities and by enhancing our customer proposition and services.”

The transaction is expected to complete on or around 5 July 2016 for the freehold locations. Completion of the sale of the leasehold locations is conditional upon consent of the relevant local authorities. However completion on both sites is anticipated by early August.

Coop Funerals Prepaid Plans.    Dignity Funeral Plans.


Scottish Cremation Burial Law Changes

Scottish Cremation and Burial Law Changes

Scotland Crematiion and Burial Changes

Scotland Crematiion and Burial Changes

Legislation to modernise the governance and scrutiny of Scottish cremation and burial has been passed by the Scottish Parliament.  The Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Bill will modernise and update 100 year-old legislation when it becomes Law in 2017.  It will introduce a legal definition of ashes.  It will standardise forms and record-keeping across Scotland. It will also clarify the process for instructing the disposal of human remains (including pregnancy loss) and place a legal duty on burial authorities to maintain the safety of burial grounds.

It also contains provisions to give Scottish Ministers the powers to introduce a licensing scheme for funeral directors.

Scottish Cremation Burial Law Changes – our comments.

Funeral Plan Quotes

Funeral Plan Quotes

Stephen Pett, of the Prepaid Funeral Review team said “This is a bold step.  After the rather odd decision of the Scottish Parliament to ignore the lessons of Harold Shipman by removing the need for second opinion before cremation.  We can’t help but wonder what this legislation will do to funeral costs in Scotland.  That said, some aspects will just legalise best practice.  But overall, we’re pretty sure that there will never be a better time to but a prepaid funeral plan for Scots.  We think costs will rise faster with greater Regulation.  The rest of the UK may follow!”

Scottish Cremation Burial Law Changes – back to the Scottish Governments view.

The Bill takes forward recommendations from the Infant Cremation Commission set up following concerns about the historical mishandling and disposal of infant remains. The Bill also implements the remaining recommendations of the Burial and Cremation Review Group.

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said: “The new legislation will bring important and much-needed changes to burial and cremation processes – helping to ensure that they are easy to understand, reliable and fit-for-purpose.

“It will create a legislative framework for burial and cremation that will meet the needs of 21st Century Scotland and address the shortcomings in the current system.  While the Bill’s passage has been marked by broad agreement on the key provisions,, there is no doubt that the Bill has been strengthened by the parliamentary process.

“I’d like to thank all those people who gave such valuable evidence on the Bill, particularly those affected parents who have made such an important contribution throughout this whole process.

“Over 100 amendments have been made by this Government based on much of the evidence given at the Committee stage – ensuring these new laws work for everyone who will be affected by them.

“In particular, I’m proud that this Government has legislated to prevent any repetition of the issues around the handling of infant remains identified first at Mortonhall Crematorium in Edinburgh. The new processes and increased scrutiny introduced by this Bill will ensure those mistakes can never happen again.”

In line with the recommendations from the Infant Cremation Commission, the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Bill will:

  • Introduce a legal definition of ‘ashes’.
  • Require the relevant authorities, including health authorities, to keep burial and cremation records indefinitely and ensure that details of the burial and cremation of pregnancy losses and stillborn babies are recorded.
  • Strengthen the application process for cremation, requiring the applicant to clearly specify what should be done with ashes and also requiring cremation authorities to record details of cremations on a central register.

The new legislation will also modernise and improve the administrative procedures surrounding adult cremation.

It also contains measures to give Scottish Ministers the powers to formally regulate the funeral industry – including making provision for the introduction of a licensing scheme for funeral directors.

The Government will also supplement the existing role of Inspector of Crematoria by establishing two new inspector roles for burial authorities and funeral directors.

Burial authorities, such as local councils, will also be given the power to carry out activities considered necessary for the upkeep and management of burial grounds – including maintaining and repairing headstones and memorials to make them safe. The Bill will make it a legal requirement for burial authorities to ensure the safety of burial grounds.

The Bill will also regulate private burials (i.e. burials at home or in a private family burial ground) and introduce measures to address the issue of pressure on available burial land in Scotland.

Funeral Plan Costs Fall in Scotland?

But Funeral Costs will not fall for everyone in Scotland….

Funeral costs in Scotland should fall slightly, but apparently the Coop has decided to keep the £170 saving rather than pass it on to consumers, according to our informant.  No doubt many others will do the same – yet another reason for Scots to contact us for independent advice!

So how has all this come about? Why should funeral costs Scotland drop and not the rest of the UK?

Scotland Health and Community Care
Families no longer required to pay fees for cremation forms.

Funeral-Plans-ScotlandFees for cremation forms signed by doctors will no longer apply in Scotland from May 2015, as a new system of death certification comes into effect. This will cut funeral costs in Scotland. At least, a little.

The crematoria medical referee system is to be abolished, meaning that next of kin in Scotland will no longer have to pay around £170 for paperwork on their loved one’s cremation. The move will save bereaved families around £5.5 million every year.

(Ed: it remains to be seen whether funeral plan providers will just pocket the extra £170 or use it to add value to the funeral.)

Under the Certification of Death Act, passed by the Scottish Parliament, the quality and accuracy of death certificates will be improved. This will create a better understanding of the actual causes of death, allowing NHS resources to be targeted more effectively. It will also provide better healthcare information to families to enable them to manage their own health where some conditions may run in families.

For the first time, relatives will have the right to ask for a review of the information on the certificate if they have any concerns. Reviews will be carried out by an independent team at Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

Assistance with post-mortem examinations will also be provided to bereaved families dealing with a death that has happened abroad. Families will be able to apply for help, including financial help, to arrange for a post-mortem.

Some death certificates will be selected at random and reviewed to ensure that the information has been completed correctly.

On the subject of funeral costs in Scotland, Maureen Watt, Minister for Public Health, said:

“Dealing with the death of a loved one is a difficult and traumatic experience. It can also be an expensive process, so I’m pleased that we have been able to improve the system and abolish cremation fees.

“It’s important that the death certification process is rigorous. The recorded information should be both correct and sufficiently detailed that can improve future health care for families and communities. By improving the certification process we can ensure this continues to be the case.

“In the rare cases where a family has concerns or complaints about what has been included on the death certificate, it’s entirely right that they should be able to request a review. For that reason we have introduced a right to an independent review of the death certificate.”

Stephen Pett, of the Prepaid Funeral Review said “We suspect that many funeral plan companies will just keep the extra £170 from Scottish funerals as a contribution towards their overheads.  But we will be pressing for discounts for our Scottish clients.  Please do contact us if you live in Scotland and are thinking of taking out a funeral plan: the more enquiries, the more pressure we can put on the funeral plan companies as the UK’s leading Independent Funeral Plan Adviser.”

According to the Scottish Government there are roughly 55,000 deaths in Scotland each year, although the number fluctuates.

Similar changes to death certification rules are proposed in England and Wales, but Scotland is the first UK nation to bring in legislation. So funeral costs in Scotland (at least for cremation) should drop by around  £170 compared with the rest of the UK.

Why this may not be such a good idea….

Legislation was prompted in part by recommendations arising from the crimes of Dr Harold Shipman, to stop any malpractice and make sure there is proper scrutiny of the death certification process, whatever method of funeral is chosen. At least the overall cost of funerals in Scotland should be eased, though funeral cost inflation will probably eat the savings up in just a few months.   That is why prepaid plans are so worthwhile.


UPDATE – progress being made on a deal for Scots!  Contact us if interested.