The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government have published a good practice guidance for local authorities who have to deal with Public Health Funerals.

Whilst not being a statutory document, the guidance sets out standards that a local authority should adhere to when dealing with a deceased person who may require a Public Health Act Funeral.

The guidance was written and developed following feedback received from several local authorities and they are designed to “protect public health and are important in ensuring that all individuals are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their circumstances.”

Some local authorities have been criticised by the media for policies applied to Public Health Act Funerals, for instance not allowing a service for the deceased.

Recommendations are that:

  • councils act considerately
  • make efforts to trace next of kin
  • adhere to any known wishes of the deceased
  • act in a transparent manner
  • attempt to recoup their costs as far as possible.

David Lockwood, Finders International’s Public Sector Development Manager and former council officer responsible for Public Health Funerals, welcomed the publication saying that:

the guidance is long overdue and will help local authorities understand their collective responsibilities to provide a dignified service for the deceased and will help guide policies to ensure a minimum standard is set by all councils.

He went on to add: “I am pleased to see the guidance recognise the work undertaken by probate genealogists, such as Finders International, in this sensitive area; we already work with many local authorities providing a free service to trace next of kin.”

The guidance states that if using a genealogist: “it is important to carry out due diligence to help ensure satisfaction with the provider.” This should include looking at a company’s accreditations, who they work with, if they hold ISO standards, what their cyber security policy is and their membership of professional bodies.

The full guidance can be read and downloaded from Gov.uk here – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/public-health-funerals-good-practice-guidance

The PHFIS is intended as a guide for local authorities and hospitals who deal with public health funerals. If you would like to learn more about the PHFIS or require assistance, you can visit our website here.  Alternatively, you can telephone: +44(0) 20 7490 4935 or email: [email protected]