Austin's

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Austin's's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Austin's is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.caerlas.org

THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
26 | AUSTIN’S
Managing Director Claire Austin
Austin’s fleet at
Harwood Park
Austin’s have been serving their local community in
Hertfordshire for over 300 years. As a family business, it has
been passed down over the generations, and Managing
Director Claire Austin is the tenth generation of her family to run
the firm. The last ten years have seen significant organic growth,
and in this time, they have increased group turnover by 74 per cent
and now arrange 1,375 funerals and 2,200 cremations every year.
Claire tells
The Parliamentary Review
more.
W. Austin and Sons Limited was originally established in 1700 in Graveley, a small
village in Hertfordshire. At the time, the firm traded as builders and undertakers.
This was traditional and commonplace as builders possessed all the necessary
skills and manpower: carpenters for making coffins, labourers for grave digging,
generally suitable premises and a workforce who could double as pallbearers.
Our history
In the early 19th century, the company moved to new premises in Old Stevenage.
There, family members resided adjacent to the builder’s yard and funerals were
arranged and carried out from here. The Austin family continued to be prolific
builders in the area for the following 150 years and many of the residential streets
and homes in Old Stevenage were constructed by the family.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, the business was owned and run by William “Bill”
Austin and his two cousins, Reg and Hubby. In October 1964, with Reg and Hubby
fast approaching retirement, my grandfather died suddenly. It was clear that there
would be great changes ahead in the business.
FACTS ABOUT
AUSTIN’S
»Managing Director
ClaireAustin
»Established in 1700
»Based in Hertfordshire
»Services: Independent family
funeral director
»No. of employees: 50
Austin’s
27AUSTIN’S |
CIVIL SOCIETY
In January 1965 my father, John, who
had been following his own career,
rose to the challenge of running the
family firm. It was soon evident to
him that the way for this business to
survive and prosper was to acquire
ownership from his father’s cousins. It
was from this point that John Austin
embarked on his journey to develop
and build this long-established and
much-respected family firm. His aim
was to provide a very personal and
quality service to the local community.
The building and funeral directing
businesses continued to operate in
tandem from the original premises in
Letchmore Road. However, in 1978,
John decided that there was a greater
future in the funeral business and so
the building side of the company was
closed. The premises at Letchmore Road
have, over the years, been modernised
and extended and continue to be our
head office and operational centre.
In the 1980s, with the popularity of
cremation increasing, it was my father’s
vision to provide a crematorium to serve
the local community. He was unable to
achieve backing to build on municipal
land and therefore decided to source a
plot of private land himself. He found
the perfect spot – sprawling farmland
in the village of Datchworth, close to
the A1 and A602. Ten years later, after
a decade of planning permission issues,
John finally realised his dream. Harwood
Park Crematorium and Memorial
Gardens opened in February 1997 and
continues to be wholly owned and
operated by the Austinfamily.
The design of the crematorium was
meticulously and sensitively planned,
complete with little touches like a large
window in the chapel to flood the space
with light and give a view out onto the
calming countryside. It was John’s idea
to build raised areas to make it easier
for wheelchair users to view the floral
tributes. He thought of everything,
right down to an exit system so that
different groups of mourners wouldn’t
have to pass eachother.
Our strategy
I took control of Austin’s Funeral
Service and Harwood Park
Crematorium in 1998, becoming the
tenth generation of the family to run
the firm, and I am extremely proud of
our subsequent achievements.
Austin’s glass horse-
drawn hearse 1902
As a family,
we have a
clear vision
and strategy
for the firm
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
26 | AUSTIN’S
Managing Director Claire Austin
Austin’s fleet at
Harwood Park
Austin’s have been serving their local community in
Hertfordshire for over 300 years. As a family business, it has
been passed down over the generations, and Managing
Director Claire Austin is the tenth generation of her family to run
the firm. The last ten years have seen significant organic growth,
and in this time, they have increased group turnover by 74 per cent
and now arrange 1,375 funerals and 2,200 cremations every year.
Claire tells
The Parliamentary Review
more.
W. Austin and Sons Limited was originally established in 1700 in Graveley, a small
village in Hertfordshire. At the time, the firm traded as builders and undertakers.
This was traditional and commonplace as builders possessed all the necessary
skills and manpower: carpenters for making coffins, labourers for grave digging,
generally suitable premises and a workforce who could double as pallbearers.
Our history
In the early 19th century, the company moved to new premises in Old Stevenage.
There, family members resided adjacent to the builder’s yard and funerals were
arranged and carried out from here. The Austin family continued to be prolific
builders in the area for the following 150 years and many of the residential streets
and homes in Old Stevenage were constructed by the family.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, the business was owned and run by William “Bill”
Austin and his two cousins, Reg and Hubby. In October 1964, with Reg and Hubby
fast approaching retirement, my grandfather died suddenly. It was clear that there
would be great changes ahead in the business.
FACTS ABOUT
AUSTIN’S
»Managing Director
ClaireAustin
»Established in 1700
»Based in Hertfordshire
»Services: Independent family
funeral director
»No. of employees: 50
Austin’s
27AUSTIN’S |
CIVIL SOCIETY
In January 1965 my father, John, who
had been following his own career,
rose to the challenge of running the
family firm. It was soon evident to
him that the way for this business to
survive and prosper was to acquire
ownership from his father’s cousins. It
was from this point that John Austin
embarked on his journey to develop
and build this long-established and
much-respected family firm. His aim
was to provide a very personal and
quality service to the local community.
The building and funeral directing
businesses continued to operate in
tandem from the original premises in
Letchmore Road. However, in 1978,
John decided that there was a greater
future in the funeral business and so
the building side of the company was
closed. The premises at Letchmore Road
have, over the years, been modernised
and extended and continue to be our
head office and operational centre.
In the 1980s, with the popularity of
cremation increasing, it was my father’s
vision to provide a crematorium to serve
the local community. He was unable to
achieve backing to build on municipal
land and therefore decided to source a
plot of private land himself. He found
the perfect spot – sprawling farmland
in the village of Datchworth, close to
the A1 and A602. Ten years later, after
a decade of planning permission issues,
John finally realised his dream. Harwood
Park Crematorium and Memorial
Gardens opened in February 1997 and
continues to be wholly owned and
operated by the Austinfamily.
The design of the crematorium was
meticulously and sensitively planned,
complete with little touches like a large
window in the chapel to flood the space
with light and give a view out onto the
calming countryside. It was John’s idea
to build raised areas to make it easier
for wheelchair users to view the floral
tributes. He thought of everything,
right down to an exit system so that
different groups of mourners wouldn’t
have to pass eachother.
Our strategy
I took control of Austin’s Funeral
Service and Harwood Park
Crematorium in 1998, becoming the
tenth generation of the family to run
the firm, and I am extremely proud of
our subsequent achievements.
Austin’s glass horse-
drawn hearse 1902
As a family,
we have a
clear vision
and strategy
for the firm
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
28 | AUSTIN’S
Austin’s has a rich history but, as a
family, we have a clear vision and
strategy for the firm. My strategy was
to fully stabilise the business with
clear structures, develop an articulated
brand vision and a strong community
identity and relationship. We offer the
complete funeral service: a tailored,
pre-paid funeral plan, crematorium
and comprehensive range of memorials
including living memorials.
Today’s customers shop around
more, and their expectations are
higher. Our aim is to keep building
our unique business with an emphasis
on providing outstanding customer
service in a way that is accessible,
personal and provides value for money.
Expansion has been considerable but
sustainable. Through our nine branches
we currently arrange 1,375 funerals
a year and 2,200 cremations at our
crematorium. The past ten years have
seen a 74 per cent increase in group
turnover to £7.6 million and a 151 per
cent increase in group pre-taxprofits.
We know that our performance is
strong, but we can’t afford to be
complacent. Although customer care
is important to all businesses, for us
it is fundamental. We are not simply
offering a funeral service: we are also
providing the care, compassion and
support that bereaved families need.
It is impossible to quantify that on a
balance sheet, but one of the figures we
are most proud of is that an impressive
68 per cent of our work comes through
recommendation. Our marketing is
done thoughtfully and sensitively with
radio advertisements being supported by
integrated marketing through traditional
media such as local newspapers,
parish magazines, buses and signage
on roundabouts. Our comprehensive
website carries invaluable information
for bereaved families and is regularly
refreshed with both video and
ongoing social media to strengthen
clientengagement.
We have transformed the business
to make Austin’s Hertfordshire’s
leading funeral directors. We created
the Hertfordshire Funeral Plan which
now holds £5.12 million funds under
management, representing 1,428
plans. Austin’s Charitable Fund was
launched in 2002 and has raised over
£200,000 for the local community.
A unique place to work
Austin’s is a unique place to work. I
make it a priority to provide our staff
with the quality of care for which we
have become renowned. Our team is
motivated, committed and loyal. Every
person takes enormous pride in what
they do every day to help bereaved
families. Customers are encouraged
to provide us with feedback, and this
gives our staff an added incentive
to shine. Our excellent service has
warranted us winning multiple national
and international awards – which has
further raised staff motivation.
This commitment to staff culminates in
our annual staff party which I host at my
home. We invite all our staff and their
families as we recognise the support
given to us by the families we employ. It
has become the highlight of the Austin’s
year and is another way for us to say a
big thank you to our excellent team.
We are
providing
thecare,
compassion
and support
that bereaved
families need
Harwood Park
Crematorium and
Memorial Gardens
29CAER LAS |
CIVIL SOCIETY
CEO Jim Bird-Waddington
Support work is varied and
rewarding
Based in South Wales, Caer Las is a charity that works
with some of the most marginalised and socially excluded
people in the region, with its primary focus being on
preventing homelessness. Integral to its work is the belief that
people are not defined by their problems and that no one
should be left behind. CEO Jim Bird-Waddington offers a further
insight into the charity and its manner of operating.
Helping people live the life they want to live
Caer Las’ overarching purpose is to:
FACTS ABOUT
CAER LAS
»CEO: Jim Bird-Waddington
»Founded in 1975
»Located in South Wales
»Services: Housing and support
»No. of employees: 94
»We assist almost 2,000 people
across the course of a year
Caer Las
»Prevent homelessness
»Help people access appropriate
accommodation
»Help people secure an income
»Support people to sustain their
tenancy and develop their life skills
»Assist people to develop a sense
of well-being and participate in
community life
»Foster confidence and self-belief
»Assist clients to move towards a level
of inclusion and well-being to which
they personally aspire
The vision for our work begins with the belief that people’s problems and
deficits are things that they experience and are not a part of their identity.
We believe that the individuals with whom we work are the very best experts
on their own life and that they have inherent resourcefulness, strengths and
abilities, which they can draw upon to bring about desired change in their
thinking andbehaviours.

www.caerlas.org

This article was sponsored by Austin's. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster