Co-op launches new child funeral policy

20 March 2017

Chester Funeralcare

  • Leads funeral market to launch new free child funeral policy extending age up to 18
  • Move will help thousands more bereaved families across the UK

The UK’s leading national funeral provider, Co-op Funeralcare, has launched a new free child funeral policy, providing additional funding support for thousands of bereaved parents of children up to the age of 18.

Tragically, over 5,000* families are impacted by the devastating loss of a child every year. Due to the often sudden or unexpected nature of this loss, funding both funeral director services and third party costs can leave many bereaved parents in a difficult position financially.

For the last 30 years the Co-op has assisted approximately 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.

As part of a long term focus on assisting the bereaved, the Co-op has now further drawn upon its experience in supporting bereaved parents and has launched a new policy on free child funerals, enhancing its services in the following ways:

  • By launching a new policy to extend free children’s funeral services to 16 and 17 year olds
  • By increasing the options available to families as part of its free child funerals service
  • By committing to online transparency on its free child funerals policy, providing families who are concerned about cost with peace of mind

The Co-op estimates that the extension of its child funerals policy up to age 18 will support thousands of bereaved families by waiving its own funeral service costs, particularly if other funeral providers follow suit and also extend their policy to cover 16 and 17 year olds.

In addition to the charge for funeral director services, approximately a third of the average cost of a funeral is made up by third party charges, such as burial or cremation charges. These vary regionally but on average across the UK amount to £1,055**.

In some locations such as the Wirral, Harrogate and Cheshire West and Chester Local Authorities are also waiving burial and cremation fees up to the age of 18***. Combined with Funeralcare’s policy, bereaved families in these locations will now receive much greater support with funeral costs.

Speaking on the announcement, CEO of Co-op Funeralcare Richard Lancaster 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’re focused on assisting the bereaved more broadly and this extends to providing families with practical as well as emotional support following the unthinkable experience of losing a child.

“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.”

The announcement has been welcomed by the UK’s leading charity supporting children and young people with cancer, CLIC Sargent. The charity has been calling on the Government to set up a national Children’s Funeral Fund to cover the cost of burial and cremation fees charged by many councils.

Kate Lee, Chief Executive of CLIC Sargent said:

“The death of a child is something that parents are completely emotionally and in many cases, financially, unprepared for. We know that a child’s cancer diagnosis can place a huge financial burden on families, with parents spending an additional £600 per month on expenses such as travel, hospital parking and energy bills.

“For the families we support that go through the devastating experience of losing a child, the funeral expenses they face simply add to this burden. Co-op’s enhanced support for bereaved parents is a very positive move and we hope that other funeral providers will follow its example.”

Commenting on the announcement Carolyn Harris, MP for Swansea East said:

“I am delighted that the Co-op has taken this action. The cost of a child's funeral adds tremendous pressure to bereaved parents and 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.”

Mark Pawsey MP for Rugby and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Funerals and Bereavement said:

“The Co-op’s initiative to extend their free child funeral policy to now include all children up to the age of 18 is a very compassionate message to those parents who have regrettably lost a child and is something I welcome.

The loss of a child is something that no parent plans for, and I hope that the Co-op’s positive lead on this matter will see other areas of the sector take the opportunity to provide similar enhanced support to assist parents at a very distressing time.”


*According to figures from the child funerals fund campaign

**In 2016 Co-op data shows that third party costs were £1055 on average. This amount varies as Local Authority and third party pricing differs across the UK

***Charges may apply to non-local residents in some cases

About the Co-op’s free child funerals policy

Co-op’s child funeral policy provides free funeral director services to Parents, Grand Parents and Legal Guardians with Parental Responsibility of any child up to the age of 18 (0-17 years).

This includes necessary provision of funeral colleagues, transportation and collection, a hearse and limousine as appropriate, optional embalming, a greater range of coffin choice, option to use a Co-op Funeralcare chapel for the service where available and no charge for weekend funerals.

The policy does not cover associated funeral costs set by third parties and local authorities, such as burial and cremation fees, clergy costs, and doctor certification fee (England and Wales).

If you are looking for assistance arranging a funeral, please contact 0800 088 4883

Media Contacts:

Lauren Hoult: / 07702 505626

Catherine Turner: / 07834 090783

About the Co-op

The Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives and has a clear purpose of championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities. Owned by millions of UK consumers, the Co-op operates a total of 3,750 outlets, with more than 70,000 employees and an annual turnover of over £9 billion.

Home to the UK’s leading funeral provider, Co-op Funeralcare conducts almost 100,000 funerals annually across over 1,000 funeral homes. Combined with its leading legal services business, the Co-op is also a national provider of later life products and services ranging from funeral plans, through to wills and probate.