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Call to scrap fees for child-burials

16 December 2016

CHRIS REYNOLDS/GEOGRAPH/COMMONS

Touching: a child’s gravestone at St Mary the Virgin, Mentmore, Buckinghamshire. The stone is undated, but reads, “To the dear memory of the infant son of Joseph and Bessie Glenn”

Touching: a child’s gravestone at St Mary the Virgin, Mentmore, Buckinghamshire. The stone is undated, but reads, “To the dear memory of the infant so...

A CAMPAIGN to scrap fees for the burial of children has been backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Archbishop Welby never charged a fee for the funeral of a child when he was serving as a parish priest.

The campaign was started by the Labour MP for Swansea East, Caro­lyn Harris, who spoke in a debate in the House of Com­mons of her struggle to pay for the cost of a funeral for her son Martin, after his death, aged eight, in a road accident.

She said: “When the undertaker was explaining to me what the plans for my little boy’s funeral were, I just wanted to hold my little boy, not bury him. I remember the day the bill arrived and that fear in my stomach as to how I would pay it.”

She was forced to take out a loan and borrow from neighbours, and is now campaigning for the Govern­ment to provide £10 million to cover the cost of funerals for the 5000 chil­dren who die each year.

Some councils do not charge fees for the burials of children, and most funeral directors and clergy also do not charge for children’s funerals. Other councils do charge, however, and costs can add up to about £3600. A spokesman for Archbishop Welby said: “The Archbishop . . . firmly agrees that local authorities should not charge for children’s funerals. He has personally never done so — from the time he became a parish priest.”

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