The Rt Hon Phillip Hammond
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Horse Guards Road
London SW1A 2HQ
14 February 2017
Dear Mr Hammond
RE: Creation of a Children’s Funeral Fund
I am writing to urge you to announce the creation of a Children’s Funeral Fund in the forthcoming Budget in March.
With funeral costs doubling in ten years and the public safety net shrinking, too many people can’t afford a respectful funeral when someone they love dies. Grieving parents are particularly hard hit. The death of a child is something parents are completely emotionally and financially unprepared for.
Some funeral directors and local authorities waive funeral costs for children; however many do not. Families wanting to give their loved ones a respectful and dignified send-off should not have to face a postcode lottery.
Due to the variation across the country, many families who may already be struggling financially caring for a child with a life limiting condition such as cancer are unable to pay for their child's funeral. All too frequently, the cost of a funeral imposes a crippling and unmanageable financial burden on bereaved parents, during what is an already impossible time. Grieving parents should not be made to suffer the added distress and indignity of funeral poverty. This is why I am supporting Carolyn Harris MP’s campaign, alongside CLIC Sargent and Fair Funerals, to establish a Children’s Funeral Fund.
The current system of state support that exists for bereaved parents remains out of reach for many struggling families, and is no longer fit for purpose. The Social Fund Funeral Payment administered by the Department for Work and Pensions covers less than 40% of the average cost of a funeral. Further to this, the eligibility criteria mean that if any member of the family is in work, they are unable to receive support, regardless of their income level.
With just £10 million a year, the government could create a Children’s Funeral Fund which would cover the cost of children’s burial and cremation fees across the UK. By creating a central fund for children’s funerals which local authorities can draw on, the government could ease the financial and emotional pressure on thousands of families, at a time when they are suffering from the loss of a child.
I urge you to consider this recommendation so that in future, families never have to worry about paying for their child’s funeral.
Sir Alan Meale MP