Prime Minister Theresa May announced establishment of a Children’s Funeral Fund on 31 March, which will pay for the cost of child burials and bring England in line with Wales.
The news comes after a campaign spearheaded by an MP who needed a loan to bury her eight-year-old son after he was killed in a car accident. Carolyn Harris, who represents Swansea East at Westminster, had called on the government to cover the costs of burials and cremations to help parents struggling to pay for their child’s funeral.
Members of the Association of Independent Celebrants, (AOIC), are already advised not to charge for child funeral or burial services – and its leaders have welcomed this government move.
AOIC executive chair, Philip Spicksley said both he and fellow members have long been concerned by the discrepancies that have existed with regards to paying for the burial of children for those families who cannot afford fees. For the last two years the AOIC has supported the Child Funeral Charity, which petitioned for change while assisting families affected.
Spicksley said: “I have been reliably informed of cases where children have been laid in mortuaries in circumstances where the parents are unable to pay fees. This mainly hits families where the parents are in work but on low wages and therefore unable to obtain a death or bereavement grant from the DHSS.”
He added while some local authorities charge for all ages of children others are dependent on the age of the child, for example those under 13 may be free.
Spicksley continued: “Members of the funeral industry will welcome the announcement because it will give a clear indication to the public as to what is to be charged, taking away any extra items such as flowers and horse drawn hearses, all children will be treated to the same dignified funeral.
“The AOIC urges the government to press ahead with this change in legislation, which will benefit all families.”