80,000 disabled young people in England and Wales are locked out of their own savings worth £210 million

5 mins read

Thursday 20 April 2023

Tags: transition, Child Trust Fund, savings, Mental Capacity Act

New figures exclusively revealed by the BBC show that 80,683 disabled young people in England and Wales will miss out on Child Trust Fund savings worth £209,801,255.

Parent campaigner Andrew Turner, working with Contact, has calculated the total loss of money to disabled young people who lack mental capacity over the course of the Child Trust Fund scheme maturity. Over 20,000 accounts have already been locked with £48 million of savings in them. The average account has £2,280 in it and the losses will grow during the next six years.

We need your help to unlock them

That’s why we are calling on supporters and families to help us call for urgent action to stop thousands of savings accounts being locked.

While non-disabled youngsters are enjoying the benefits of their savings which they can access on their 18th birthday, many with a learning disability cannot.

Due to Mental Capacity rules, the families of young people with learning disabilities unable to manage their money, have to apply through the court of protection to access their Child Trust Funds. This is a lengthy, costly and complex process.

Parent campaigner, Andrew Turner, said: “The scale of this issue is truly shocking. Hundreds of millions of pounds of savings for disabled young people could be locked away for good. Many families will not have the capacity or funds to use the Court of Protection process and the savings of young disabled people will be locked away forever. The government must act to avoid thousands of locked accounts in the coming years.”

Appointee scheme could allow safe access to Child Trust Funds

Andrew Turner, together with Contact and Child Trust Fund providers are calling on the government to:

  • Increase the scope of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Appointee Scheme to cover Child Trust Funds and Junior ISAs up to £5,000. This would bring England and Wales in line with Scotland where it is easier and cheaper for young people with a learning disability to access their savings.
  • Publish a detailed plan with timescales of how they propose to simplify the court of protection process immediately.

Una Summerson, Head of Campaigns at disability charity Contact, said: “During this cost of living crisis it is more important than ever that disabled young people can access their own money. Preparing for adulthood is a challenging time. Forcing families to go through a complex court process at the same time is adding too much pressure.

“We are urging families with disabled teenagers to find out who their Child Trust Fund provider is, before their child turns 18. They can use the government website to find out. Then speak to the provider or bank about your situation. There are some providers such as One Family and Foresters who are helping young disabled people to access their Child Trust Fund savings without going through the court of protection process.”

Sadly not all providers are doing the same, which is why we will continue to push government to use the already established appointee scheme for safe access to savings. We need your help to push for this change – take action and email your MP today.

Andrew Turner added: “Back in September 2020 my disabled son Mikey was locked out of his Child Trust Fund. He simply wanted to buy an adapted bike with his money and his life-limiting condition meant that time was of the essence. The Child Trust Fund was his only financial asset, which made it special. Nobody warned us we would need to go to court when the account matured. When we took advice we were told it would be easier and cheaper for us to wait until Mikey died when we could use a simpler process to reclaim the money. It was deeply upsetting. Three years later, this situation has not changed and more accounts are locked. That’s why the government must resolve this issue urgently.”

Take action today. Find out more about our campaign.

Read the BBC News online report highlighting this issue.

Find out more about Contact’s Change Makers – our programme that puts parent carers at the heart of our policy and campaigns work.

What to do if you have a Child Trust Fund

If your child is under 18 years old, you can find out if they have a Child Trust Fund using the government website here: Child Trust Fund: Find a Child Trust Fund – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). Then speak to your Child Trust Fund provider about your situation. There are some providers such as One Family and Foresters Financial who are helping young disabled people to access their Child Trust Fund savings without going through the court of protection process (using the DWP appointee scheme as a safeguard).

If your child is over 18 years old, you will not be able to get this information without their consent. If they are unable to give consent because they do not have mental capacity, you will need an order from the Court of Protection to investigate and report to them, so you can be given access. Find out more: Child Trust Fund: What happens when your child is 18 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

In Scotland, applications need to be made to the Office of the Public Guardian in Scotland. And in Northern Ireland, applications need to be made to the Office of Care and Protection.