6. Arrangements for the funeral
Where parents retain their parental responsibilities and parental rights, they have responsibility for all the funeral arrangements unless they delegate that to the local authority or cannot be found. Support and assistance should be provided to parents to help them make arrangements and give other help which may be required, including bereavement counselling. It may be helpful for support to be provided by someone who has been through a similar bereavement.
Where the local authority has parental responsibilities and parental rights through a permanence order they should discuss who is to make the funeral arrangements with the parents, and anyone else with responsibilities or rights under the order or the child’s nearest relative (per section 66 of the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016). Again, support and assistance should be provided to parents and others, including bereavement counselling.
Generally, however, the local authority should help those with parental responsibilities to take responsibility for arranging the funeral and burial or cremation. Where parents or persons with parental responsibilities cannot be found, efforts to find them should not delay the funeral.
The funeral should be conducted in accordance with the child's wishes, religion or beliefs (where known). Where parents or persons with parental responsibilities or the child’s nearest relatives cannot be found but there is information about a child’s religion or beliefs, advice should be sought immediately to ensure local authorities make appropriate arrangements. Sections 87 and 88 of the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016 (legislation.gov.uk)Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016 place a responsibility on local authorities to make arrangements for the remains of a child who dies within the local authority area and no other arrangements have been made or are being made under section 66(2) of that Act:
- to be buried or cremated, having regard so far as known to the authority
- to any wishes that the child expressed and whether the child was of a particular religion or belief.
The local authority may make payments to any person who is a relative of a child who had been looked after, or any other person connected with the child, in respect of travelling, subsistence or other expenses incurred in attending the child's funeral, where it appears to the local authority that the person concerned could not otherwise attend the child's funeral without undue financial hardship and that the circumstances warrant the making of the payment.
This provision might apply where the child has been placed a long way from home and the carers and the other children in the placement wish to travel to the funeral, or where the child's family are living on a very restricted budget and have no capacity to cover unforeseen expenses. These payments are not recoverable by the local authority.
In some circumstances family members may be eligible for a Funeral Support Payment. Further information on eligibility criteria and how to access this support can be found at Funeral Support Payment – mygov.scot.
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