England to Abolish Burial and Cremation Fees for Children
LONDON — Parents in England will not be charged burial and cremation fees for children after Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the government would set up a fund to cover the charges.
The announcement on Saturday came after a campaign by an opposition Labour lawmaker, Carolyn Harris, whose 8-year-old son died in a road accident. The charges on parents were waived in Wales last year.
Mrs. May said in a statement, “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,” she added.
Labour Left, a research organization tied to Britain’s main opposition party, said on Twitter that the fund would be financed with 10 million pounds, or about $14 million.
The prime minister’s office noted that about 4,350 children under the age of 18 died every year and that their families faced thousands of pounds in local authority fees for burial or cremation costs. Those costs can vary considerably, though some councils already waive the fees.
Ms. Harris, a member of Parliament for the Welsh constituency of Swansea East, said on Twitter: “This victory will mean parents who are going through the toughest time in their life will have one less thing to worry about.”
Mrs. May lauded the “dignity and strength” of Ms. Harris, who had been at the forefront of the campaign to abolish child funeral fees after she had to take out a loan to bury her son Martin in 1989.
The prime minister said she had asked for the 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.”
Last year, the Welsh government signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the local authorities to ensure a “fair and consistent approach” to funeral fees.