Council pledges reintroduction of children’s funeral fees will not mean families have to pay

Thanet council says a reintroduction of fees for children’s funerals will not mean parents have to pay for the service.

Thanet council Cabinet members are expected to agree to reintroduce the charges for funerals for children under 18, including those stillborn, from April 2021.

But the authority says the money will be claimed direct from national government and not parents/carers.

In April 2019 Thanet council removed the funeral fees but in July last year the government launched the Children’s Funeral Fund so families suffering from the loss of a person under the age of 18 could reclaim some associated costs. Several MPs campaigned for the scheme to be introduced, including one who had lost a son aged 8 years who raised concerns about bereaved parents meeting the costs of their child’s service.

A report to councillors says: “Thanet District Council waived all fees for those under the age of 18 years from April 1 2019, except for the purchase of burial rights, which was optional. However, this means that the actual costs still have to be funded by the council and it is unable to reclaim those from the Children’s Funeral Fund.”

The council says that since fees were removed it has covered costs for three stillborn and eight under 18 burials and five stillborn and 6 under 18 cremations.

The costs are overed using other income generated by the Cemeteries and Crematorium Service. The report says: “The introduction of the Children’s Funeral Fund is an opportunity to reinstate fees for these services, without impacting financially on families suffering bereavement. The actual fee to be charged for these services will be reviewed annually.

“Reimbursement of these fees can be reclaimed from the Government via the Children’s Funeral Fund. Under no circumstance will there be a payment required by the bereaved family for cremation or burial.”

A Thanet council spokesperson added: “”We can confirm that there is no cost to parents in the event of a child’s funeral. If the decision is made to reintroduce fees for this service, they will be claimed back directly by the council, from the Children’s Funeral Fund. This is in line with guidance that clearly states parents should not be charged and that the burial or cremation authority will make any necessary claims for their costs. The scheme is not means-tested and is offered for children, including stillborn babies, up to the age of 18.”

Cllr Steve Albon said council staff will complete the necessary paperwork.

Some funeral directors carry out under 18s services without charge, such as Twyman and Holmes in Ramsgate which provides a standard child funeral for free and does not ask the government for a refund. Last year Josh Twyman, who works at the family-run funeral directors, was shortlisted in the Bereavement Worker category for The Butterfly Awards, run by the Finley’s Footsteps charity.

The annual event raises awareness of babyloss – whether that be through ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, compassionate induction, sudden loss or loss of an infant following illness.

Josh was shortlisted by a parent who praised the care he gave to her family while handling her daughter’s funeral arrangements.

Fees proposed

Cremation

Foetus – to remain free of charge (not eligible for the Children’s Funeral Fund)

Stillborn – 4 years (including medical referee fee) – £304

5 – 9 years (including medical referee fee) – £380

10 – 17 years (including medical referee fee) – £532

Burial

Foetus – free of charge (not eligible for the Children’s Funeral Fund)

Stillborn – 4 years – £328

5 – 9 years – £492

10 – 17 years – £657

Cabinet members will discuss the fees at a meeting on Thursday (October 22).

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