BURIAL and cremation fees for children are to be abolished in Wales, it has been announced.

The Welsh Government has announced it will make up to £1.5 million available to councils in Wales between now and 2020 to pay for scrapping the charges.

The funding will also be available to all other providers of cemeteries and crematoria in Wales who agree not to charge on the same basis.

The charges have already been scrapped in Newport, Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly.

In Monmouthshire child burials currently cost between £450 and £1,611 for children who lived in the county, and £1,747 and £5,524 for non-residents. Stillborn children and foetuses which had to be terminated are buried for free.

First minister Carwyn Jones urged all councils to put the Wales-wide agreement into force as soon as possible.

“We must do all we can to support families who have lost a child,” he said.

“I am pleased we are able to work with local authorities to take away just one of the stresses and strains on the shoulders of grieving parents during a hugely distressing time.

“Today’s commitment will also end the unfairness caused by charging different fees across Wales.

The agreement has been reached with the Welsh Local Government Association and One Voice Wales, which represents community and town councils across Wales.

Newport City Council and WLGA leader Cllr Debbie Wilcox welcomed the news.

“Local government is very pleased to be able to help to support families who are going through the most difficult period in their lives,” she said.

“Losing a child is a harrowing experience and a trauma that will stay with families throughout their lives.

“We are pleased to be working with Welsh Government to ensure that there is fairness and consistency in this regard in all areas of Wales.”

Chief executive of One Voice Wales Lyn Cadwallader said: “We have worked in collaboration with Welsh Government and WLGA colleagues in implementing this important government policy.

“When we surveyed the community and town council sector there was overwhelming support to scrap child burial fees. “It is hard to comprehend how difficult it must be for grieving families to cope with this tragic circumstance.

“The introduction of this approach will take away any unnecessary stress and help to ease the pain of grieving families.”

In 2015 379 children and young people aged 18 and younger died in Wales.