SAIF members encouraged to review recent child funerals for reimbursement eligibility

January 24, 2020   //   No Comments

SAIF is reminding independent funeral directors in England who have arranged a child’s funeral in the past six months that they and/or bereaved families might be eligible for a reimbursement of the costs.

The Children’s Funeral Fund launched last summer with the aim of ensuring no parent has to pay for the funeral of a child, with payments to cover the cost of a cremation or burial, certain funeral director’s fees and a coffin. 

Each year in England, there are around 3,800 deaths of children between birth and the age of 17, in addition to approximately 2,700 stillbirths, according to this briefing paper

It has now emerged that there have been fewer than 650 payments since July and it’s possible that families or funeral directors haven’t applied due to a lack of awareness of the benefit. The average payment amount issued so far is £570.

Claims by funeral directors, families and burial and cremation authorities can be made retrospectively up to six months after a funeral, providing relevant documentation is produced. Families are able to claim if they haven’t used the services of a funeral director but have incurred costs in arranging a funeral.

Terry Tennens, Chief Executive of SAIF, said there were potentially families and funeral directors across England who might be able to apply for the funds.

“Whilst nothing can diminish the unimaginable tragedy of losing a child, it is important that grieving parents are aware that assistance is available to help cover basic funeral costs. I would encourage SAIF members to check their records for the past six months to see if they are eligible for this support.

“It could also be the case that many funeral directors have continued with the tradition of arranging child funerals for free, despite the availability of public funds, in which case there will be some who do not wish to make a claim. However, it’s important that people are aware of the benefit,” he said.

The fund is available in the case of stillbirths after the 24th week of pregnancy and for children up to their eighteenth birthday. Further information about the fund can be found here.  

Funeral directors in England are able to claim for the following costs:

  • Up to £300 towards a coffin, shroud, casket or other covering
  • Removal of implanted medical devices for a cremation
  • Completion of necessary cremation certificates on behalf of the medical professional
  • A container for storing ashes in a columbarium or similar (if the one returned to the family is unsuitable for this)
  • Fees charged by a third-party grave digger (where these are not claimed by the burial or cremation authority)

In Wales and Scotland, the relevant governments have agreed with local authorities to scrap burial and cremation fees for children.

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