Church welcomes announcement to help bereaved families

The Church of Scotland has welcomed an announcement to remove all local authority charges for child burials and cremations.

The Scottish Government and Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) have agreed to work together to support all bereaved families.

While most local authorities have already removed their fees for children under the age of 16, this new commitment will see the removal of their fees consistently and completely across all areas.

Funeral Poverty

It is estimated that the cost of removing existing costs will be in the region of £500,000 a year with the funding being provided from the Scottish Government’s Social Security budget.

Rev Dr Richard Frazer, Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland, said: “It is the privilege of a minister to journey alongside families in times of joy and in times of grief.

“We are proud of the fact that ministers do not charge a fee for conducting funeral services, therefore this announcement to have a Scotland-wide policy of no charges for child burials and cremation is very welcome.

“The funeral of a loved one can place a significant and unexpected burden on the friends and family they leave behind.

“While there is still more to be done, this policy should mean that fewer people will turn to pay day loan companies, credit cards and other sources of funding when making arrangements for the funeral of their child.”

Richard Frazer
Rev Dr Richard Frazer

The Church of Scotland continues to speak out against the scandal of funeral poverty and has campaigning for an end to the postcode lottery of burial and cremation charges and the introduction of state assistance for those particularly in need.

Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, Angela Constance MSP, said the death of a child is “one of the most tragic experiences that anyone can go through”.

“Most local authorities do not charge child burial and cremation fees but the picture across Scotland is a mixed one, as local authorities introduce adult burial and cremation charges at different ages across the country,” she added.

“We agree with Cosla that no family should have to pay to bury or cremate their child.”

Rev Bryan Kerr, minister of Greyfriars Church in Lanark, has been working to help bring about policy changes as the Church of Scotland's representative on the Scottish Working Group on Funeral Poverty, the Funeral Poverty Alliance and the Scottish Government Working Group on Funeral Poverty and Social Security Funeral Payment.

View the working group's guide to planning your own funeral (pdf file)