Today the Welsh Government have announced plans to scrap fees for children's funerals. This follows a determined, passionate campaign led by Carolyn Harris MP who lost her own young son and found she was unable to afford to bury him.
“When the undertaker was explaining to me what the plans for my little boy’s funeral were, I just wanted to hold my little boy, not bury him. I remember the day the bill arrived and that fear in my stomach as to how I would pay it.”
Carolyn was working as a dinner lady and barmaid when her eight year old Son Martin died suddenly. With funeral costs doubling in ten years, too many people can’t afford a respectful funeral when someone they love dies. The cost of a funeral imposes a crippling on financial burden on families at one of the most difficult times in their lives.
Carolyn’s campaign calls for the government to put £10 million into funding children’s funerals across the country.
Many funeral directors waive the fees for a child’s funeral, but most local authorities charge for cremation and burial services.
Carolyn, along with others including Fair Funerals and children's cancer charity CLIC Sargent, are now calling on Westminster, led by Prime Minister Theresa May, to follow the lead of the Welsh Government.
Up until now, Theresa May has refused to scrap children's fees, saying that the government already do enough to help grieving families who can't afford a funeral. She points to the funeral grant which is available to some people on qualifying benefits who would otherwise be unable to afford a funeral. What Theresa May doesn't say is that the grant has shrunk so much now it only covers around 40% of a funeral bill. And many people who need support get nothing. Because Carolyn was in low paid work when her son died, she wouldn't have been eligible for help.
In response to the announcement that the Welsh Government are scrapping fees for children's funeral, Carolyn says:
“I am delighted that the Welsh Government is leading the way by absorbing the cost of child burials. For what has been a very personal and at times upsetting campaign, it has been truly heart-warming to see so many people show such compassion for grieving parents.
No parent should ever have to suffer such a cruel loss, but there are many organisations working to remove an unnecessary stress to an already difficult time.
From local authorities waiving their fees, the clergy providing a free service and funeral directors making their services free, the Welsh Government will now ensure that every bereaved parent in Wales will be able to bury their child without having to worry about the bill”.
Click here for tips on how you can encourage you local MP to take action on funeral poverty.