On 31st March 2018 the Government announced their intention to establish a Funeral Fund for grieving parents who have lost their child.
It is reported that under the scheme, parents will no longer have to meet the cost of burials or cremations. Fees will be waived by all local authorities and met instead by government funding.
The Government announcement brings England in line with Wales who removed the fees on 23rd November 2017.
Whilst we await from the Government the detail of what burial costs will be waived in England we can review the current situation in Wales as set out on the Welsh Assembly Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) dated 23rd November 2017 that can be accessed below on the link.
The MOU in Wales at clause 3.2 states:
"3.2 This commitment applies to standard fees that burial authorities charge (for children) relating to:-
i) The cremation of a person under the age of 18 years;
ii) The internment of a person under the age of 18 years;
iii) The exclusive rights of burial, where required;
iv) Any other fees directly relating to the burial or cremation of a person, or the cremated remains of a person, under the age of 18 years (for example, the fees charges for permission to erect a memorial)"
Notably there are exclusions to what the burial/cremation fee waiver does not include and for which the next of kin will remain responsible to pay that is set out at clause 3.4:-
"3.4 The committment in this section does not relate to wider funeral costs such as (non exhaustively) the cost of a memorial, funeral director fees, flowers or coffins. "
Whilst the Government announcement will clearly be wecolmed it still remains that the cost of an average funeral currently is £3,897 (Sunlife 2016 "Cost of Dying 2016"). As such the burial or cremation fee charged by Local Authorities is a small part of this total cost as the Wales MOU excludes funeral directors fees, flowers or coffins.
At present many families will upon the death of a child have to take out a loan, or apply for a grant. Some funeral directors will waive part or all of their fees associated with a child's burial.
In those instances where a child has died as a result of a third party's negligence, for example in a road traffic collision, then if the third party is insured their insurance company can be asked to provide up front payments that the family then use against the cost of a funeral.
Matthew Claxson specialises in representing bereaved families at Inquest and acting on their behalf in claims against insurance companies. Freephone 0800 157 7611 or e:mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Moore Blatch LLP is a UK leading law firm with offices in London, Richmond, Southampton and Lymington.
The MOU sets out a fair and consistent approach across Wales to the fees charged by local government for the burial and cremation of children.