A parliamentary campaign to bring England in line with South Holland by scrapping burial and cremation fees for young children has proved successful.
John Hayes, MP for South Holland and the Deepings, was among more than 100 MPs who backed a 16-month campaign for child burial and cremation charges to be waived.
The campaign was led by Carolyn Harris, Labour MP for Swansea East who, during a House of Commons debate in November 2016, revealed that she paid some of her son’s funeral costs by public donations and a £750 bank loan.
In response, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that a Children’s Funeral Fund would be launched whereby fees charged by South Holland and other councils would be met by the Government instead.
Speaking in a House of Commons debate just two days before Mrs May’s annoucement on Easter Saturday, Mr Hayes said: “The prospect of losing a child is a nightmare for parents and the horror of its reality is exacerbated when they cannot afford to pay for a funeral.
“The financial support (for such parents) has been frozen for 15 years and the heartbroken cannot be made to suffer any longer.”
Unlike South Holland District Council, nearby Boston Borough Council currently charges child burial fees of between £35 and £248, dependent on the child’s age, along with creation fees ranging from £17 to £95.
The Vicar of Spalding, the Reverend John Bennett, said: “The Church of England does not charge fees for funerals for children but I appreciate that other costs will be incurred.
“However, the last thing that parents need to worry about when they suffer the tragic loss of a child is where to find extra money so I welcome the setting up of this fund.”
Mrs May said: “No parent should ever have to endure the unbearable loss of a child, a loss that no amount of time will ever truly heal.
The last thing that parents need to worry about when they suffer the tragic loss of a child is where to find extra money so I welcome the setting up of this fund
“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.
“I have been incredibly moved by the dignity and strength of campaigners like Carolyn Harris who lost her own son Martin when he was just eight years old.
“Carolyn has passionately argued for a Children’s Funeral Fund to spare grieving families the burden of meeting funeral costs and in the darkest moment of any parent’s life when there is little light, 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.”