From 1st of September 2020, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of teenagers can access their Child Trust Fund money given to them when they were born. The UK Government introduced the Child Trust Funds scheme in 2005 with the aim of ensuring that every child has savings at the age of 18.
Child Trust Funds gave between £250 and £1,000 of Government cash to all children born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011. Parents could add to the fund until the child turned 18, when they have access to the monies, plus interest.
However, there was no consideration for those who may not have the mental capacity to be able to access and manage their funds at the age of 18. It is predicted that tens of thousands of disabled children are affected and are disadvantaged.
If they do not have capacity, then their families or carers will need to apply to the Court of Protection to act as the child’s Deputy. It is estimated that the process can cost from £365.00 for the Court Application to £2,500.00 for solicitor involvement. This could potentially be a sum which may exceed the amount held in the Child Trust Fund in the first place. Furthermore, given the current position with COVID 19, there is potential for delays on applying which would add further pressure to Court resources.
Missing the deadline to access funds means that the money is switched into a new account by the Child Trust Fund provider, which are allowed to pay less interest under HM Revenue and Customs rules. There is a current campaign for change to the system to ensure that more children will be able access their funds without incurring large fees.
The hope is that the government will take a practical approach under these circumstances and that a procedure can be put in place which allows families to gain access to their children’s funds without the added expense and potential delay when applying through the Court of Protection.
Brian Ferry is a Costs Lawyer in the Costs Department at Clarion Solicitors. You can contact him on 07741 663809 or by email to Brian.Ferry@clarionsolicitors.com