Charges for a child under the age of five to be buried in East Lothian jumped from £35 to £100 earlier this month.

At the same time, the cost of burying a child under 17 rose from £89 to £200, while a £25 charge for interment of stillborn babies was dropped, with no charge now in place.

The introduction of the charges sparked anger from many, including the council’s SNP Group, which tabled a motion at Tuesday’s council meeting.

An amendment from the Labour Party echoed the SNP’s sentiments and was unanimously approved by members of all three parties on East Lothian Council.

Councillor Stuart Currie, SNP Group leader, had submitted the original motion, which read: “The council is asked to agree that at a time of unimaginable loss we should do all we can to assist families who have sadly lost a child under the age of 18.

“The current burial charges are £100 for a child under five years old and £200 for a child aged five to 17 years old.

“Council is therefore asked to remove charges for the burial of children under the age of 18 with immediate effect.”

An amendment from Labour called for the council to make representations to the Scottish Government to follow the lead taken by the Westminster and Welsh Governments and meet all Scottish child burial charges from Scottish Government resources immediately.

Following the decision, Mr Currie said: “I am really pleased and proud that the council has approved the SNP motion moved by myself and seconded by Councillor Neil Gilbert which has scrapped burial charges for children in East Lothian. This will make a difference at times of intense sadness and tragedy with the loss of a child.

“Whilst it was the SNP Group who brought forward the motion, I believe it was important that cross-party support was achieved.

“I want to thank the hundreds of people who got in touch to support my call to scrap the charges highlighted in a recent edition of the Courier.

“Local democracy matters and today our council did what was right for the people we are privileged to serve.”

The news was welcomed by Sara Fitzsimmons, executive director and co-founder of SiMBA, the charity set up to help people affected by the loss of a baby.

Sara, from Dunbar, told the Courier: “We are delighted that East Lothian Council has taken prompt action. It is a fantastic move forward and it is great that the council responded so quickly.”

She also welcomed the news that all child burials up to the age of 18 would be carried out free of charge.

The amendment was put forward by Councillor Norman Hampshire and seconded by colleague Fiona O’Donnell (both Lab). Mr Hampshire stressed he did not want to turn the issue into a political debate, while his colleague described the time parents face the loss of their child in as “their darkest hour”.

 

For the full article please click here : http://www.eastlothiancourier.com/news/16183889.Child_burial_charges_in_East_Lothian_scrapped/