England

Child burial fees waived in England

Child grave Image copyright Matt Cardy
Image caption Child burial fees were abolished in Wales last year

The costs of child burials and cremations are to be waived in England to bring them in line with Wales, the prime minister has announced.

Theresa May said the fees will be met by a new Children's Funeral Fund to help parents struggling to pay for funerals for children aged under 18.

It comes after a campaign by Labour MP Carolyn Harris who had to take out a loan to bury her son.

The Swansea East MP called the decision "dignified and compassionate".

Child burial fees were abolished throughout Wales in November following the lengthy campaign by Ms Harris whose eight-year-old son Martin was killed in 1989.

'Dignity and strength'

In response to the government's announcement, she said: "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."

Image caption Carolyn Harris MP had to take out a loan to bury her son

Ms Harris told BBC Radio 5 live she was feeling "a mixed emotion" following the campaign, saying it had been a "very tough, painful journey".

"It's for every parent who has to face what me and my husband had to face," she added.

Mrs May hailed the "dignity and strength" of Ms Harris, adding: "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 fund was "welcome and wonderful news".

He also paid tribute to Ms Harris' campaign, saying: "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."

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