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Should Kids go Free?

“Corbyn calls for an end to child funeral charges rang the headlines” as questions were raised in the House of Commons about a much-publicised case which hit the news last week.

This call was in response to the case of an MP from Wales who was forced to borrow money to pay for the funeral of her eight-year old son.

Carolyn Harris’s son Martin died following a road accident in Swansea in 1989. A collection arranged by friends raised £1,000 but the Swansea East MP had to take out a bank loan to pay for the rest of the arrangements.

What probably made this case so emotive was that a child had died which makes an already fraught emotional situation so much worse. The fact that the child’s mother, Carolyn Harris, is a Member of Parliament sitting in Westminster gave the story a platform it might not otherwise have had.

But who is right?

We could probably debate this issue until the end of time without coming to a conclusion and what seems perfectly reasonable to some may appear totally repugnant to others.

However, the crux of the argument seems to be not that a payment had to be made to the Funeral Director but the heavy-handed way in which the matter was handled. If this isn’t a timely reminder of the emotion involved when a child dies, then this is surely it.

After hitting the mainstream media, the story prompted several people to share their own experiences in similar situations and the topic proved to be one which divided opinion.

There were a few very aggrieved parents who couldn’t believe how callous a particular service provider had been in charging for their particular service. But what was interesting was that their ire was aimed at just one person or organisation when, in reality, there would have been a whole host of service providers: an all making a charge for their service. But these weren’t mentioned.

Which leads one to the conclusion that the argument was more about how the matter was handled than the fact that a charge was made.

This would be an interesting topic to debate and see what other’s feelings are on this terribly difficult subject.

There are, however, a number of organisations whom bereaved parents can turn to when a child dies and the following links may be helpful.

https://www.gov.uk/funeral-payments/overview

https://www.gov.uk/funeral-payments/how-to-claim

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/496523/sf200_print.pdf

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About the Author: Alec Sharples

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