This Commons Library briefing paper deals with the establishment of a fund to pay the fees charged by burial and cremation authorities, and some associated expenses, in respect of the funeral in England of a child under the age of 18

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Sections 1 and 2 of this briefing paper deal with the position in England. Section 3 outlines the position in Wales and Scotland.

England

Campaign for a Children’s Funeral Fund

Carolyn Harris MP, whose own son died, aged eight, was among those who campaigned for the Government to meet the cost of funerals for children. She raised the issue in Parliament on several occasions, speaking of the difficulties bereaved parents face in meeting the cost of their child’s funeral. On 31 March 2018, the then Prime Minister announced that she had asked for a Children’s Funeral Fund to be set up in England, under which fees for burials and cremations would be waived by all local authorities and met instead by Government funding.

Establishment of Children’s Funeral Fund for England

The Children’s Funeral Fund for England (CFF) now provides funding for the burial or cremation fees, and some associated expenses, including up to £300 towards a coffin, shroud or casket, for a child’s funeral taking place on or after 23 July 2019.

The eligibility conditions are that the child is under 18 at the time of death or is stillborn after the 24th week of pregnancy, and that the burial or cremation takes place in England. The residence or nationality of the deceased child, or of the person responsible for organising the burial or cremation, are not relevant in determining eligibility. Payments from the CFF are not means tested.

Claims for costs of a child’s funeral

Burial authorities, cremation authorities and funeral directors may apply to the CFF for reimbursement of specified fees which they would otherwise charge for the provision of the burial or cremation of an eligible child. It is intended that the parents or the family of the child are not charged the fees covered by the CFF. Anyone choosing to make the funeral arrangements themselves, without using a funeral director, may claim directly for the associated expenses provided for by the CFF.

The Social Fund (Children’s Funeral Fund for England) Regulations 2019 set out what can be claimed.

Interaction with Social Fund Funeral Expenses Payment scheme

The CFF runs in parallel with the Social Fund Funeral Expenses Payment scheme, which enables persons on qualifying benefits to apply for prescribed financial support with regard to a burial or cremation. It is not possible to make a claim under both schemes for the same item or service. However, eligible claimants may be able to apply to the Funeral Expenses Payment scheme for some funeral expenses, including any amount paid above the CFF contribution of £300 towards a coffin, shroud or casket.

Further information

Further information is available on the Gov.UK website, Claim for costs of a child’s funeral (Children’s Funeral Fund for England).

Wales and Scotland

Both the Welsh Government and the Scottish Government have established schemes, under devolved powers, to make financial support available to providers of burial and cremation for children.

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