EAST Ayrshire Council have become the first in Scotland to scrap burial fees for families who have experienced pregnancy loss or stillbirth.

The Scottish Government reached a joint agreement with COSLA to remove burial fees for children under 18 earlier this year.

At the council’s cabinet meeting on Wednesday, September 5, councillors agreed to ratify the policy and take it a step further by including pregnancy loss, stillbirth and by implementing it retrospectively.

Councillor Elena Whitham, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities said: “The pain of losing a child is unimaginable. As a council, we feel very strongly that we must support bereaved parents as much as we possibly can. Removing the worry of paying for bereavement services is a positive step and one that I welcome wholeheartedly.

“The Scottish Government announced earlier this year, in joint agreement with COSLA, to remove local burial and cremation fees for children under 18 years throughout Scotland. In East Ayrshire, there had been no charge for children under 16 years of age but that has now increased to under 18 years.

“We are also the first local authority in Scotland to extend free bereavement services to East Ayrshire residents who have suffered a pregnancy loss or stillbirth.

“Funeral poverty is real and it is something we are acutely aware of in East Ayrshire. Our Bereavement Services team has been at the forefront of tackling funeral poverty locally and has provided guidance and support to other local authorities at a national level.

“Our aim is to support our residents when they are most in need.”

The retrospective action means that families who have incurred costs from April 1 this year will be reimbursed.