Today the Welsh Government has announced that the Burial Fund promised by First Minister Carwyn Jones at this year’s Welsh Labour conference will come into full effect from today.
The Welsh Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with local government to stop charging for the burial of children, ensuring there is a clear, fair and consistent approach across Wales.
The First Minister said:
“We must do all we can to support families who have lost a child. I am pleased we are able to work with local authorities to take away just one of the stresses and strains on the shoulders of grieving parents during a hugely distressing time.
“Today’s commitment will also end the unfairness caused by charging different fees across Wales and I am grateful to the WLGA and One Voice Wales for their support.”
Carolyn Harris MP said:
“I will be eternally grateful to the Welsh Government for taking this momentous step in supporting grieving families.
“My bright and beautiful son Martin was taken away from me 28 years ago at just eight years old. Standing in the House of Commons and telling everyone my story was incredibly difficult but I wanted to help others who would experience a similar tragic loss in the future. I wanted to see an end to parents struggling with the costs of burying their child and began my campaign calling for the introduction of a Children’s Funeral Fund.
“I’ve felt like I’ve re-grieved for my son, but at least now he has a legacy, and no other parent in Wales who goes through the tragedy of losing a child will have to worry about funeral costs.”
To support local authorities in making this step, the Welsh Government is making up to £1.5 million available between now and 2020. This funding will also be available to all other providers of cemeteries and crematoria in Wales who agree not to charge on the same basis.
There has previously been significant variation across Wales on whether fees were charged, what fees were charged and even how a child was defined for these purposes.
The latest figures from 2015 show that there were 379 deaths of children under 19 years of age.
The MoU comes into force with immediate effect and the First Minister is urging councils to ratify the agreement as soon as possible.