Co-op Funeralcare has launched a new free child funeral policy, providing additional funding support for thousands of bereaved parents of children up to the age of 18.
Every year more 5,000 families lose a child – and because this loss is often sudden or unexpected, paying for funeral director services and third party costs can leave many bereaved parents in a difficult position financially.
Over the last 30 years, Funeralcare has helped around 25,000 families who have lost a child under the age of 16 by not making any charge for its funeral director services, an approach also adopted by other funeral providers across the UK.
Now the co-op has now further drawn upon its experience in supporting bereaved parents with a new policy on free child funerals. This will:
- extend free children’s funeral services to 16 and 17 year olds
- increase the options available to families as part of its free child funerals service
- commit to online transparency on its free child funerals policy, providing families who are concerned about cost with peace of mind.
The Group estimates that the extension of its child funerals policy up to age 18 will support thousands of bereaved families by waiving its own funeral service costs, particularly if other funeral providers follow suit and also extend their policy to cover 16 and 17 year olds.
In addition to the charge for funeral director services, approximately a third of the average cost of a funeral is made up by third party charges, such as burial or cremation charges. These vary regionally but on average across the UK amount to £1,055.
In some locations such as the Wirral, Harrogate and Cheshire West and Chester Local Authorities are also waiving burial and cremation fees up to the age of 18. Combined with Funeralcare’s policy, bereaved families in these locations will now receive much greater support with funeral costs.
Co-op Funeralcare’s chief executive Richard Lancaster said: “Dealing with the death of a child is a devastating experience for any parent and having to comprehend this as well as sorting out the funeral and associated costs makes this experience even more traumatic.
“We’re focused on assisting the bereaved more broadly and this extends to providing families with practical as well as emotional support following the unthinkable experience of losing a child.
“We hope that others will now improve and extend their own policies on child funeral costs, meaning that funding support across the UK goes much further to assist bereaved parents.”
The announcement has been welcomed by the UK’s leading charity supporting children and young people with cancer, CLIC Sargent. The charity has been calling on the government to set up a national Children’s Funeral Fund to cover the cost of burial and cremation fees charged by many councils.
Chief executive Kate Lee 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. Co-op’s enhanced support for bereaved parents is a very positive move and we hope that other funeral providers will follow its example.”