28 FEB 2017

Fighting for a funeral fund

Maidstone and the Weald MP Helen Grant has called on the Chancellor to help bereaving families by creating a children's funeral fund. In a letter to Mr Hammond, Mrs Grant has encouraged him to announce the fund in his forthcoming budget in March.

Having recently attended an event in Parliament in support of World Cancer Day, Mrs Grant spoke to a number of cancer sufferers and their families and heard of the difficulties funeral costs can pose for families suffering from the death of a child.

With funeral costs doubling in the last ten years, now more than ever bereaved parents are facing financial difficulty. One in seven people who organise funerals are forced into serious financial trouble as a result. The creation of this fund will help to address this issue and provide support for families when they need it most.

The current Government support network, the Social Fund Funeral Payment, is inaccessible to many and covers only 40% of the costs, even for those who qualify.

This is a particular issue in Mrs Grant's constituency of Maidstone and the Weald and the South East as a whole. With funerals in the region costing on average £4,090, this is 5% higher than the national average. This figure has increased by 13.5% in the last four years alone. Both Maidstone Borough Council and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council offer reduced price burials for under 16s but this still leaves great expense to be paid by parents.

Mrs Grant said: "Burying a child is every parent's worst nightmare. To be forced into hardship as a result of giving your child a dignified burial or cremation is devastating for families.

I am very concerned about the impact that rising funeral prices could have on vulnerable grieving families in my constituency and it is therefore right that we try to protect them."

Clare Laxton, CLIC Sargent's Head of Policy and Public Affairs said:

"The death of a child is something that parents are completely emotionally and in many cases, financially, unprepared for. We know that a child's cancer diagnosis can place a huge financial burden on families, with parents spending an additional £600 per month on expenses such as travel, hospital parking and energy bills. For the families we support that go through the devastating experience of losing a child, the funeral expenses they face simply add to this burden."

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