End to child burial fees after campaign by bereaved mum

Child burial fees are to be waived following a campaign by an MP
Child burial fees are to be waived following a campaign by an MP

Child burial fees are to be waived 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 had called on the Government to cover the costs of burials and cremations to help parents struggling to pay for their child's funeral.

The Prime Minister has announced the establishment of a Children's Funeral Fund which will pay for the costs of the burials and bring England in line with Wales.

Ms Harris, who represents Swansea East at Westminster, said: "I celebrated last year when the Welsh Government gave me the Children's Funeral Fund, I've celebrated when every local authority right across this country has done this.

"But at last after so much pressure and so much time, families right across the United Kingdom can know that if they're ever in that terrible, terrible position when they lose a child, that there will now be a pot of money available to make sure that child has a dignified and respectful funeral.

Ms Harris has long campaigned on the issue, with her eight-year-old son Martin having been killed in 1989, having previously said the establishment of a fund was "the dignified, compassionate and sympathetic thing to do".

Theresa May hailed the "dignity and strength" of Ms Harris, adding: "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."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the establishment of a fund was "very welcome and wonderful news".

He said: "This is a simple piece of dignity for bereaved families across the country, secured through tenacious campaigning by Labour's Carolyn Harris who tirelessly kept up the pressure when the Government was dragging its feet.

"No parent who has gone through the heart-breaking experience of losing a child should be left struggling to cover the cost of a funeral."