This Commons Library briefing paper deals with the establishment of a fund which will pay the fees charged by burial and cremation authorities, and some associated expenses, in respect of the funeral in England of a child under the age of 18Jump to full report >>
Sections 1 to 3 of this briefing paper deal with the position in England. Section 4 outlines the position in Wales and Scotland.
Some local authorities and providers of funeral services waive part or all of their fees and expenses in the case of the death of a child. However, the financial pressures in paying funeral expenses can add to the distress suffered by bereaved parents at a very emotional time.
Payments from the Social Fund can be made to claimants who receive means‑tested benefits and tax credits to help meet the costs of a funeral, including the funeral of a child. Further information is provided in another Library briefing paper, Social Fund Funeral Payments (CBP01419).
Carolyn Harris MP, whose own son, Martin, died, aged eight, in 1989, and others, have campaigned for the Government to meet the cost of funerals for children. Carolyn Harris has raised the issue in Parliament on several occasions, speaking of the difficulties bereaved parents face in meeting the cost of their child’s funeral.
On 31 March 2018, the Prime Minister announced that she had asked for a Children’s Funeral Fund to be set up in England, under which fees for burials and cremations would be waived by all local authorities and met instead by Government funding.
On 1 July 2019, junior Justice Minister, Edward Argar, announced that the Social Fund (Children’s Funeral Fund for England) Regulations 2019 were being laid before Parliament and would come into effect on 23 July 2019. These regulations will create the Children’s Funeral Fund for England (CFF). Edward Argar summarised what would be covered:
Under the CFF, bereaved families will no longer have to meet the fees charged for a cremation or burial of a child under the age of 18. Rather, they will now be able to access this provision for free at the point of need, with the costs being met by Government funding and providers applying to the CFF for reimbursement. As a further gesture of this Government’s commitment to supporting bereaved people, families in England will also be provided with a contribution of up to £300 towards the price of a coffin (or shroud or casket, where preferred), and will meet other specified expenses.
The Minister said that the provision would be universal, “available to all bereaved parents in England who have lost a child regardless of their means”. A claimant will be entitled to a CFF payment if the funeral takes place in England on or after 23 July 2019. The CFF will run in parallel with the Social Fund Funeral Expenses Payment scheme. It will not be possible to make a claim under both schemes for the same item or service.
Edward Argar paid tribute to “the tireless work” of Carolyn Harris in bringing this issue to the Government’s attention, saying, “As the Prime Minister has said, it is in memory of the hon. Lady’s own son, Martin, that the CFF is being established”.
Both the Welsh Government and the Scottish Government have established schemes, under devolved powers, to make financial support available to providers of burial and cremation for children.
Commons Briefing papers CBP-8610
Author: Catherine Fairbairn