01 Aug 2019 North East Lincolnshire Council set to introduce a new code of practice for funeral services

North East Lincolnshire Council is set to introduce a new code of practice for funeral directors who use Grimsby Crematorium.

Funeral directors, celebrants and other users of the crematorium were invited to draw up the new good practice guide to help services run smoothly.

A meeting was held in May where members of the user group called for new, clearer rules to be put in place to help funeral directors plan services and reserve extra time in the chapel when it is needed.

The policy has been reviewed after a number of recent high-profile cases where a small number of funeral directors were billing their clients with an excess charge imposed when a service over-runs.

Under the existing policy, a charge is imposed on the funeral director if a service over-runs. The charge is currently £200 – the same as it costs to book additional time in the chapel.

Funeral directors manage the proceedings and it is at their discretion whether or not to pass this charge to their client.

Members of the user group agreed that a good practice guide for the crematorium would be an appropriate way forward.

The guide removes the need for separate overrun fees and instead introduces a system which encourages respect for other service users and protects families’ interests.

Any funeral director not signing up to the guide would pay more for each service they book. This is to cover the cost of additional time and for staff being on hand to resolve any problems.

As this cost would be charged when booking, no additional charges can be passed on to families afterwards.

There will also be warnings and ultimately, funeral directors who repeatedly breach the guidelines will be charged more to use the crematorium until they make improvements.

Councillor Stewart Swinburn, portfolio holder for environment, said: “The current additional charge to funeral directors exceeding the time booked was designed to limit disruption to services and to make sure all families were guaranteed dignity and privacy.

“Recent reports of overrun fees being passed on to grieving families without prior warning indicate that placing families’ best interests at heart is no longer being achieved in a small number of cases.

“Some funeral directors are passing the charges on to families, so we need to look at the best way to avoid this by making sure businesses are booking the appropriate time slot for a service.

“Therefore, a review of the policy has been conducted to maintain a timely service which prioritises families’ interests but removes the risk of any unexpected charges being passed on to them.”

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