The Social Fund: Help for Grieving Families
Government figures suggest around 3,800 children die under the age of 18 each year in England (with a further loss of 2,700 to stillbirths).
For many grieving parents, carers, and guardians, meeting the costs of burying or cremating a child can be a struggle.
Even though many councils waive (or discount) the fees for burials of children under sixteen. The cost of arranging a child’s funeral in the United Kingdom could cost around £4,000.
A new government scheme – called the Children’s Funeral Fund (CFF) – brings an end to some of the worry and uncertainty. It reduces the financial burden for bereaved parents during these difficult times.
The fund arrangements followed a cross-party campaign led by the MP for Swansea East [Carolyn Harris] back in 2018.
The outcome means no bereaved family has to pay the fees charged for a child’s burial or cremation. The support for child funeral costs also extends to some of the associated expenses (e.g. a coffin, casket, or shroud).
Children’s Funeral Fund Technical Guidance
Unlike some of the welfare established under the Social Fund, the CFF for England is not one of the means-tested benefits. So, the amount you earn, and any savings you have, is not going to affect your eligibility to claim.
There are no nationality or residency requirements for the deceased child or for the ‘responsible person’ (parent, guardian, or carer) organising the burial (whether of a body or of cremated remains).
The scheme makes a direct reimbursement to the burial authorities, cremation authorities, and funeral directors. But, the child’s burial (or cremation) must take place in England to qualify for CFF.
Note: Under their respective devolved powers, the Welsh and the Scottish Governments have also established similar schemes. They make financial support available to the providers of burial and cremation for children.
What Does the CFF Fund Cover?
There are specific claimable fees and expenses covered by the Children’s Funeral Fund for England. The scheme can help to pay for (either):
- Some of the costs of a funeral for a child under the age of eighteen (18) since the 23rd of July 2019.
- A baby stillborn after the 24th week of pregnancy (read more about registering a stillbirth).
Some of the associated expenses you can claim for include:
- Burial or cremation fees (including the cost to get a doctor’s certificate).
- Up to £300 towards the cost of a coffin, shroud, casket, or other covering.
- The removal of implanted medical devices (in preparation of a cremation).
- Completion of necessary cremation certificates.
- A container to store ashes in a public columbarium or similar (if the one returned to you is unsuitable).
- Fees charged by a third-party grave digger (unless already claimed by the burial or cremation provider).
Note: The GOV.UK Funeral Expenses Payment may cover other costs that relate to a funeral plan (providing you or your partner are getting certain qualifying benefits).
Faith-based Funeral Requirements
CFF funding is available no matter the religious faith of the deceased child (or that of either parent, guardian, or carer).
But, the funding does not cover items that relate ‘exclusively’ to any requirements of the religious faith that fall outside the standard expenses.
How to Claim the Fees
As a rule, the burial or cremation provider will make a direct claim for the fees from the scheme. So, they should not charge you. The way you claim for other expenses (e.g. the child’s coffin) would depend on whether you are using a funeral director (or not).
If You Use a Funeral Director
There will be no need to submit any claims yourself if you are using a funeral director. The provider will be able to claim for costs of a child’s funeral (Children’s Funeral Fund for England). They will receive the money to cover the burial or cremation fees.
The funeral director can also make a claim for some of the other associated funeral expenses. They would receive the payment from the scheme.
If You Do Not Use a Funeral Director
The process for claiming the funding works differently if you are not using a funeral director. The provider of the burial or cremation claims in the normal way for the burial or cremation fees. They would receive the payment direct from the scheme.
You can claim for costs of a child’s funeral online if you paid directly for specific expenses (e.g. a coffin) without using a funeral director.
You can get help to make a claim or request a PDF claim form by calling:
Note: You must make any claims for associated expenses within six (6) months of when the funeral takes place.