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Funeral Poverty

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:40 pm on 11th September 2018.

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Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 3:40 pm, 11th September 2018

Part of the main reason why the issue is so complicated is because it is to do with qualifying relatives’ next of kin, and we are constantly looking at that. I very much hope that the hon. Gentleman will be part of the roundtables as we further consider the matter.

On the children’s funerals front, I join the tributes paid to Carolyn Harris. I have enjoyed working with her on this and a number of other campaigns. She is a real credit to Parliament, on this and other matters, and I think we all welcome the improvements that have been made. It has been demonstrated that where the Government have been able to look at the matter practically and constructively we have responded, and rightly so. In addition to the ongoing work with the forms and the helpline, and with providing information, we are also supporting the private Member’s Bill on parental bereavement leave and pay for parents.

I understand the concerns raised about public health funerals. I too have heard stories about people not being able to pay their final respects, and about the length of time taken and the confusion during what is an incredibly distressing period. Although that is not a matter for the DWP, it is all part of the same thing, and I am keen, as we get all that information back from the Treasury and the CMA, that we drive forward really important changes.

I thank all the speakers in what has been a really helpful debate. It is also very timely, with the report due soon, and I look forward to working with many Members here on this important subject in the future.