Funeral
The move should help grieving families across the country.iStock

The Co-op Funeralcare company has announced that they are waiving funeral fees for children of all ages.

The UKs largest undertaker firm, offered a free service for children up to and including the age of 15 but this has now been extended to 17 meaning that there will be no costs for any children under 18.

Over the last 30 years, Funeralcare has helped around 25,000 families who have lost a child under the age of 16 by not making any charge for its funeral director services, an approach also adopted by other funeral providers across the UK.

The news has been welcomed by one Labour MP in particular who struggled to pay for her son's funeral in 1989 - when the free provision of child funeral care was not so widely available.

Carolyn Harris had to borrow money so she could bury her eight-year-old son.

She said: "This compassionate response by the Co-op reaffirms my faith in the funeral industry that has always maintained great respect and compassion at this most dreadful time.

"In reality this means that in some parts of the country, where compassionate local authorities have scrapped fees, there will be no cost to a bereaved parent."

The MP for Swansea East was forced to take out a loan to cover the costs after her son was killed in a road accident.

Harris is a campaigner for an end to burial charges for children by councils. Some local authorities – including Cardiff, Swansea and Plymouth – have already scrapped charges for child burials and cremations.

The government says help is available for those who cannot afford the charges through a social fund for funerals.

The average cost of a funeral in 2015 was £3,817 including third party fees, according to the Co-op.

The Co-op will cover the costs for the undertakers, embalming, coffin and transport.

It will not pay for third-party fees, which include burial and cremation fees, the doctor certification and the minister or celebrant fee.

Richard Lancaster, chief executive of Co-op Funeralcare, said: "Dealing with the death of a child is a devastating experience for any parent and having to comprehend this as well as sorting out the funeral and associated costs makes this experience even more traumatic.

"We hope that others will now improve and extend their own policies on child funeral costs, meaning that funding support across the UK goes much further to assist bereaved parents."