The Scottish Government has announced that bereaved parents will no longer be charged by local authorities to bury their children.
The SNP administration has committed £500,000 to pay for the fees, helping to mitigate some of the financial pressures that hundreds of Scottish families face at what is a challenging and tragic time.
The General Register Office for Scotland estimates there are around 350 and 450 deaths between birth and the age of 19 in Scotland every year.
The costs of burial and cremation have previously been referred to as a postcode lottery, with costs and age thresholds varying between different council areas across Scotland.
Together for Short Lives, along with other organisations, has been campaigning for the UK’s governments to reduce the financial costs that families face when a child dies. Research by Royal London found that people were taking on debts of, on average, £1,680 to be able to pay for a funeral.
The announcement follows similar changes in England and Wales. During a speech to the Welsh Labour conference in 2017, Welsh Government First Minister Carwyn Jones AM announced that Wales would be scrapping burial and cremation fees. The Prime Minister similarly intervened to establish a Funeral Fund in March 2018, meaning fees will be waived by all local authorities and met instead by government funding.
The news was welcomed by Together for Short Lives CEO Barbara Gelb: “The death of a child is an extremely traumatic experience that no family wants to go through. By scrapping burial fees, the Scottish Government are making a welcome step towards alleviating the costs that bereaved families face when experiencing their worst nightmare. We’re delighted that Scottish ministers have listened to the calls from campaigners and made this commitment.”
The Northern Ireland government is now the only UK government yet to scrap interment fees for child deaths.