The NAFD has welcomed the implementation of the Children’s Funeral Fund – which will be available to families from 23 July 2019. We are, in particular, pleased to see that it goes further than perhaps expected by providing up to £300 towards the cost of a coffin (one that is lined, fitted ready for burial or cremation).

The new fund should, at least, mean that bereaved parents of a child more than 24 weeks gestation and 18 years or less won’t have to pay burial or cremation fees or a funeral director’s fee (where the funeral director’s policy is to charge, which we know is rare). The spirit of the fund is that the fees will be recovered directly from government and parents won’t receive an invoice for a funeral at all.

The Ministry of Justice hopes that where funeral directors currently provide the necessary elements of a child’s funeral (including a coffin of particular specification) free of charge, they won’t be moved to change their policy as a result of the new fund.  The fund is designed in such a way that should parents choose to arrange a more elaborate bespoke funeral they will receive some support towards the cost to a reasonable level.

However, it is disappointing that they’ve not considered the fee for an officiant (either secular or religious), to lead the funeral service, as a “necessary” cost. It is also disappointing that the new fund is not aligned with those already in operation in Wales and Scotland – and that there is no news about a scheme for Northern Ireland. The NAFD intends to lobby the Welsh and Scottish governments to ask them to add a contribution to the cost of a coffin to their respective schemes – and will press for news about provision for Northern Ireland families too.

The Ministry of Justice has released a briefing document for funeral directors ahead of the fund’s implementation later this month. Please click here to download it.