MPs warn nearly a million teens missing out on savings in Child Trust Funds

4 mins read

Wednesday 26 July 2023

Tags: learning disability, savings, child trust funds, court of protection, public accounts committee

A new report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) – a group of cross-party MPs – has found that nearly a million young people are missing out on savings in their Child Trust Funds

The committee, which scrutinises the value for money of government projects, estimates that more than £1.7billion is sitting in accounts waiting to be accessed. At least 80,000 of those accounts are owned by young people with a learning disability who lack mental capacity.

Their report backs up what Contact and campaigners have been saying about the Court of Protection process needed when a disabled youngster lacks mental capacity to access savings – it’s difficult, time consuming, and costly.

Parents speak out

Our Change Maker, Ramadeep and her son Harry told the BBC what the money would mean to them and how the Court process is locking the money away:

“The money will mean so much to Harry – but at the same time the bureaucracy, cost, and overall impact of the legal implications is huge. I saved for my son, like I did for his brother – the whole system is wrong if it deprives Harry of what is rightfully his.”

Contact has joined parent campaigners, legal and financial firms campaigning to unlock £210 million of savings in Child Trust Funds for 80,000 disabled youngsters.  To date nearly 2000 of our supporters have written to their MP calling for a simplified process to help release savings.

Andrew Turner, the parent leading the campaign told the Times Newspaper:

“All we’re asking is for the government to come up with a simple process. None of us want fraudulent activity to take place. But you don’t necessarily need such a heavy duty process.”

As of this week more than £58 million of savings in Child Trust Funds has been locked away from disabled youngsters.

Martin Lewis speaks out

Martin Lewis, the financial expert, has recently raised his concerns about the issue. He agrees that the Government has so far ‘failed to meaningfully act’ to help young people locked out of their savings. He wrote to Children’s Minister calling for action, you can read her response in his blog:

What do MPs say should be done?

The Public Accounts Committee report makes a number of recommendations, including calling on the government to set out what action they are taking to help the families of young people who lack mental capacity to access their Child Trust Funds without excessive bureaucracy and cost.

It also says government should do more to find and contact young people who have not claimed their Child Trust Fund.

The government will now have to respond to the report. You can find the summary and full report here.

What Contact and other campaigners want

We are calling on the government to increase the scope of the 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 an Access to Funds scheme makes it easier and cheaper for young people who lack mental capacity to access their savings.

Our advice to families