The prime minister has announced the establishment of the Children’s Funeral Fund, scrapping the costs of child burials and cremations in England.
The campaign for the scheme was backed by Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who had to take out a loan to pay for her eight year old son’s funeral after he was killed in a car accident in 1989.
The scheme will be formally announced in the Autumn Budget later this year and will bring England in line with Wales, where the Children’s Funeral Fund was introduced last year.
Each year, 4,350 children under the age of 18 die in England and the cost of an average burial is around £3000.
Theresa May said in a statement: “No parent should ever have to endure the unbearable loss of a child – a loss that no amount of time will ever truly heal. But in the raw pain of immediate loss, it cannot be right that grieving parents should have to worry about how to meet the funeral costs for a child they hoped to see grow into adulthood. In the darkest moment of any parent’s life there is little light – but there can be support.
“That is why I have asked for the Children’s Funeral Fund to be set up in England. For Carolyn, in memory of her son Martin, and in support of all those parents overwhelmed by such harrowing loss.”
Co-op Funeralcare welcomed the announcement. David Collingwood, the company’s director of funerals, said: ‘’The emotional impact of losing a child is more than enough to bear for any parent. To have planned for a positive future for your child, and then be faced with their loss at whatever age is something no parent should have to experience.
‘’Having to manage the practical aspects of organising the funeral together with suddenly finding the money to pay for such an event only adds to this unimaginable grief. At the beginning of 2017 we made the move to extend our support, ensuring that bereaved parents of children up to the age of 18 will not be charged for our services. We provide all our services, the coffin, a vehicle or hearse for the funeral with no charge.”
He added: ‘’We welcome the positive changes made by government and local authorities, helping us to do what matters most as a caring society. The alterations made to child funeral fees are helping to ensure that any parent facing such a tragic loss has the highest level of reassurance from everyone involved.’’