Crematoria inspector job criticised for low pay

The chapel at Mortonhall Crematorium. Picture: Paul Chappels
The chapel at Mortonhall Crematorium. Picture: Paul Chappels
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A NEW post created to inspect Scotland’s crematoria in the wake of the Mortonhall scandal has come under fire for being part-time and carrying only a fraction of the salary offered for other public roles.

The position, HM Inspector of Crematoria for Scotland, was a key recommendation of Lord Bonomy’s inquiry into policies and practices surrounding the cremation of infants.

The wide-ranging report followed an Evening News investigation revealing how grieving parents were routinely told there would be no remains to scatter after cremation of babies at council-run Mortonhall Crematorium when they were later buried in cardboard boxes.

However, adverts for the inspector post say the job – which will involve monitoring all 27 crematoria across Scotland at least once a year – should take between 90 and 120 days a year and the inspector will be paid a daily fee of £90.

That compares with the £300 a day paid to members of the Scottish Police Authority and £280 a day to members of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Authority.

The ads also say: “The work of the Inspector of 
Crematoria does not require a detailed working knowledge of crematoria management or operation, as this expertise could be gained following appointment.”

The successful candidate would also be expected to respond to public complaints and feed advice into the funeral industry

Dorothy Maitland, operations manager with bereavement charity SANDS Lothian, which first uncovered the scandal, said: “It would be better if you had some knowledge of crematoria. Is this maybe not why this happened in the first place – because there was not enough knowledge about it?

“Surely it would be preferable for someone to have a bit of experience in the field.”

Willie Reid, of the Mortonhall Ashes Action Committee, was shocked the job was expected to take only 90 days.

“It does not bode well for snap inspections or emergency inspections if something happens,” he said.

“It’s not what I was expecting – I thought it would be a full-time post. It was put up in lights in the government statement, but it appears to be quite a dim light now.”

He was not impressed by the £90 a day fee on offer.

“I would not be doing it for that money,” he said.

Richard Kerley, professor of management at Queen Margaret University, said it was wrong that the person charged to prevent a repeat of the Mortonhall scandal was being offered half the fee paid to other people “to sit in a cosy committee, unchallenged and often unnoticed”.

The Scottish Government said the 90-120 days work was in line with its senior pay policy. It added: “A particularly qualified or experienced candidate could be paid more.”