Support for funeral bill finally given

Matt and Deborah Hart at home in Chorley
Matt and Deborah Hart at home in Chorley

A grieving couple whose baby son died just 50 minutes after his birth have won their fight to get help to pay for his funeral.

Archie Hart was born prematurely after hi s mum Deborah went into labour on September 14, just 23 weeks and two days into the pregnancy.

Archie was born at Royal Preston Hospital but sadly died just 50 minutes later.

It is thought a blood clot in the placenta could have caused his premature birth and death.

Deborah, of Devonport Way, Chorley, said: “He was a lovely little boy.

“He was perfect in every way.

“There was nothing physically wrong with him.

“We both have children from previous marriages and Archie was our first child

together.”

As both Deborah and husband Matthew are unable to work, they applied to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for help to pay for Archie’s funeral through a social fund, which supports bereaved families on low incomes.

They say they were told to go ahead with the funeral and the social fund arrangements would be made directly with the funeral director.

But a week after Archie’s funeral, the couple received a letter to say they would not receive help from the social fund.

The letter said funding could only be given for the funerals of babies born after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Deborah, 40, said: “It was like I had been kicked in the stomach. I was absolutely

horrified.”

The couple, who have seven other children in total, appealed the decision and had the support of Chorley MP, Lindsay Hoyle.

The DWP has now reversed their decision and says the refusal was based on incorrect information that Archie was stillborn.

A spokesman for DWP said: “Funeral payments are only available for certain circumstances of stillbirth such as those born after the 24th week of pregnancy.

“The information we had initially was that this was a stillbirth. However as soon as it became clear that this was not a stillbirth, we revised our initial decision and have made a payment to Mrs Hart.”

Deborah has welcomed the decision, but is unhappy with what has happened.

She said: “It has put extra stress on us that we shouldn’t have had to go through.

“No parent should have to go through what we did.”

Deborah is campaigning for changes to the rules for social fund payments and more than 600 people have already signed her petition, which can be found at epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/55733.

She has also set up a Facebook group named Archie Lateef Hart Memorial Fund to raise money for charity in his honour.