Registrars struggling to meet new demands, says UNISON Scotland

thumbnail of RegisteringConcern_SurveyofRegistrars_March2016Scottish Registrars are struggling to meet the new demands on the service. That’s the finding of an UNISON report Registering our Concern, which is launched today (Tuesday, 8 March 2016)

UNISON carried out a survey of registrars in Scotland to investigate how they are coping with new demands and cuts on their service. The survey shows a workforce concerned that budget and jobs cuts are seriously impacting on their ability to deliver a sensitive and accurate service.

Registrars provide services to families who have a new child, marriage, citizenship and bereavement. These services must be sensitive and accurate. Registrars are dealing with new immigration and citizenship changes; changes to death certification, a new Tell Us Once service; and equal marriage and civil partnerships legislation and take up. The service is a gateway to a range of benefits like child benefit, tax credits and other services and in some cases your immigration status.

Eight out of ten registrars say they are experiencing budget cuts. Over half say their service has been subject to ‘severe cuts’. They report that people can wait hours to register a death of a loved one, that registrars are finding it stressful carrying out marriage ceremonies as they often do not have time to prepare.

Registrars pride themselves on accuracy but now worry about making mistakes. They report increased workloads and that they are under pressure to deliver a high quality service with increasing demands and fewer resources. Many say they once loved their jobs but are now looking to find other work. The pressure is too much.

Dave Watson, head of UNISON public affairs said, ‘Registrars provide a vital public service. They are hugely supportive of the recent legislation on equal marriage and new Tell Us Once service. They want to provide a professional, inclusive public service. However they tell us that dealing with these extra demands at the same time as severe cuts is tooo stressful. Many who loved their jobs are wanting out.

In some situations one person is now doing the job three even four members of staff used to do. And the administrative burden has incerase. They tell us that, in just a few years, workforce morale has dropped considerably’



  • UNISON in the biggest trade union in Scotland and represents registrars across Scotland Registering our concerns can be read here:
  • Respondents to this qualitative survey included registrars, assistant registrars, senior registrars, deputy and chief registrars
  • Registering our Concerns is a qualitative online survey. It collected in-depth information about respondents work experiences and the impact that has on their lives.
  • Tell Us Once service is so bereaved families dont have to deal with lots of public bodies. However it has increased the workload of the person who collects and inputs the data.

UNISON Contacts

  • Danny Phillips, communications officer, 07944 664110
  • Dave Watson, head of public affairs 07958 122409