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  1. ITV Report

'No assessment' by Government over child funeral costs

Welsh Labour politicians have expressed their surprise and outrage after the Wales Office in Westminster have admitted they have made 'no assessment' of the cost of children's funerals.

Credit: PA Images

Despite a high profile campaign by Swansea East MP Carolyn Harris, backed by Shadow Secretary of State for Wales Jo Stevens, for the Westminster government to pay the costs of funerals for children, Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns has admitted that the Wales Office haven't made any assessment of the average costs of funerals in Wales.

The answer was given in response to a Parliamentary Question on the issue from Jo Stevens, and comes as Swansea City Council and Cardiff City Council have both announced they will scrap their fees for child burial because of Mrs Harris' campaign.

Carolyn Harris made an emotional speech in the Commons about losing her son in 1989 Credit: ITV News

Mrs Harris has called for the UK government to set aside £10m to automatically cover costs for child burial after having to take out a loan to afford the funeral costs for her own eight-year-old son Martin after he was killed in a road accident in 1989.

The Swansea MP's son Martin died when he was 8 years old Credit: ITV News

However, when the issue was raised at Prime Minister's Questions Theresa May refused to offer any additional help for parents, and would not commit to looking at changing government policy to ensure all bereaved parents can afford to bury their children, instead insisting that burial costs are a matter for each local authority to decide.

Read more: Archbishop of Canterbury backs Welsh MP's campaign to scrap child funeral costs

The death of a child is always a devastating time for any parent, but for parents without much money, being forced into debt simply so they can say a simple goodbye to their loved one makes a terrible situation even worse. Carolyn's brave and brilliant campaign has rightly given this issue the national focus it deserves so it's outrageous that despite it the Wales Office hasn’t even bothered to understand how much families are having to pay in the middle of their grief.

– Jo Stevens MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales

I’m appalled that the Welsh Secretary hasn’t even bothered to understand the problem let alone begun to act on it. The money needed would be a drop in the ocean so I’m calling again Alun Cairns to look at this issue properly and do the right thing.”

– Carolyn Harris MP, Swansea East, Labour

A Wales Office spokesperson said, “There can be few things more traumatic than the death of a child and the last thing anyone would want to worry about is the cost of a funeral.

“The UK Government provides a system of funeral payments aimed at those on low incomes which go a long way to pay for a simple but dignified burial. Last year we supported more than 32,000 claims.

“The Secretary of State has spoken to Carolyn Harris to help her progress the issue and has committed to maintaining close engagement.“