I am pleased to announce that today the Social Fund (Children’s Funeral Fund for England) Regulations 2019 are being laid before the House. It is the Government’s intention that these Regulations will come into effect on the 23rd July.
The laying of these regulations fulfils the Prime Minister’s commitment to establish the Children’s Funeral Fund for England (the “CFF”).
No parent should ever have to endure the unbearable loss of a child. Whilst recognising that nothing can ever truly heal the pain of such a loss, it is right that the Government ensures that all families who lose a child are given the support they need.
Under the CFF, bereaved families will no longer have to meet the fees charged for a cremation or burial of a child under the age of 18. Rather, they will now be able to access this provision for free at the point of need, with the costs being met by Government funding and providers applying to the CFF for reimbursement. As a further gesture of this Government’s commitment to supporting bereaved people, families in England will also be provided with a contribution of up to £300 towards the price of a coffin (or shroud or casket, where preferred), and will meet other specified expenses.
The CFF marks a key milestone in the delivery of the Government’s manifesto commitment to provide bereaved parents with the support they need. Its provision will be universal, available to all bereaved parents in England who have lost a child regardless of their means. It is also intended to complement other measures such as the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018, which received Royal Assent last September and is expected to apply from April 2020.
We have worked closely across Government to ensure that the CFF is compatible with other relevant measures and will continue to work with Devolved Administrations to ensure coordination with their own equivalent schemes. In particular, I have worked closely with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance, and officials in the Department for Work and Pensions in order to ensure the CFF’s compatibility with the Social Fund Funeral Expenses Payment scheme.
In developing the CFF, we have engaged with a range of interested parties from across the funeral services sector, whose insight and expertise continue to be invaluable to ensuring the successful implementation of the CFF. I am also grateful for the continued support offered to bereaved families by the wider funeral industry. I hope that the CFF will be a welcome addition to the existing free provision which is already made available for families who have suffered the loss of a child.
In conclusion, I would like to pay tribute to the tireless work of the Honourable Member for Swansea East in bringing this important issue to the Government’s attention. Drawing on her own experience, she has led a courageous campaign to secure this additional support for all those families who, tragically, face the burden of losing a child. As the Prime Minister has said, it is in memory of the Honourable Member’s own son, Martin, that the CFF is being established.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords