Child Trust Fund campaign

Image of a money safe with caption: 80,683 disabled young people in Engand and Wales are locked out of their own savings worth almost £210 million. Help us unlock them.

We are supporting a parent-led campaign to help disabled children access their savings.

80,000 disabled young people in England & Wales risk losing £210 million, as a difficult and costly process means many are unable to access the savings held in their Child Trust Fund.

In this article

Why we’re campaigning

What is a Child Trust Fund?

The government introduced Child Trust Funds – a type of tax-free savings account – in 2005.

All children in the UK born between September 2002 and January 2011 received £500 in government vouchers as an incentive to join the scheme.

Disabled children and those from low-income families received larger amounts to provide additional benefits in later life. This money was then locked away – with parents able to add more to the account each year – until the child turned 18.

Sounds good. What’s the issue?

No consideration was given to what would happen if any of the children lacked the mental capacity to manage their finances once they turned 18.

These young people cannot take control of their savings, yet there isn’t an easy way for their parents to access the account on their behalf.

Instead, the government requires parents in England and Wales managing their child’s finances to make an application to the Court of Protection to access their Child Trust Fund.

In Scotland, you will need to make an application to the Office of the Public Guardian in Scotland. And in Northern Ireland, you’ll need to apply to the Office of Care and Protection.

What’s wrong with this?

This process places too much pressure on parents.

Applying to the Court of Protection involves completing lengthy forms and asking a GP or social worker to complete 10 pages of detailed information (with many now charging a fee for this).

There is also a fee for applying to the Court of Protection. And while the government has now agreed that they will waive the fee if parents apply before their child turns 18, parents may still need to become a financial deputy. This will involve – amongst other things – paying fees. And even once parents have submitted the application, current waiting times are around six months.

We fear that many families will not have the energy, time or funds to use the Court of Protection process. This means that their child’s savings are at risk of remaining locked away indefinitely.

Martin Lewis has recently spoken out against disabled children being locked out of their child trust funds accounts, and wrote about it on his blog.

We are calling on supporters and families to help us call for urgent action to stop £210 million of savings owed to disabled young people from being locked.

Email your MP about this issue now.

“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”

Parent campaigner Andrew Turner

Could this affect any other type of savings?

Yes. All of the same issues apply to the Junior ISA scheme, which replaced the Child Trust Fund in 2011.

Can parents acting as their child’s appointee access savings on their behalf?

No. The law only allows appointees to manage benefit payments, but not savings accounts.

Can my Child Trust Fund Provider help?

Some providers, like OneFamily and Foresters Financial have put in place a scheme that saves families from having to go through the stressful complexity of applying to the Court of Protection.  It will consider each situation on a case-by-case basis with sensitivity and compassion, applying a process that mirrors the DWP’s appointee paperwork requirements to enable parents to access accounts using documentation that they already hold. 

If you are the registered contact for a child trust fund owned by a young person who isn’t able to manage their own affairs please contact OneFamily on 0333 220 5067 or Foresters Financial on 333 600 0333.

How do I find out who my Child Trust Fund provider is?

Many families don’t know who their Child Trust Fund provider is.

Find you Child Trust Fund provider before your child turns 18 using the government website. You’ll need basic information like their National Insurance number. Then speak to your provider about how to access the savings.

If your child is 18 years old or over, you will not be able to get this information without their consent. And if they are unable to give consent because they do not have mental capacity, you will need the Court of Protection order to investigate and report to them, so you can get access.

Find out more: Child Trust Fund: What happens when your child is 18 – GOV.UK (

What should I do if you live in Scotland?

Accessing Funds held in Child Trust Funds or Junior Individual Savings Account (JISA’s) can be done through the Access to Funds Scheme (Scotland). Before making an application, you should contact the Access to Funds team on 01324 677140 or email to discuss your individual circumstances

What’s the solution?

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 with a learning disability to access their savings.

Watch our Facebook Live on Child Trust Funds, Junior ISAs and mental capacity or watch it on YouTube.

What are the government doing about this?

We welcome attempts made by the Ministry of Justice to increase awareness of the Mental Capacity Act. They have published a toolkit for parent carers on making financial decisions which pulls together information into one document. However, we do not think this will improve access to savings held in Child Trust Funds or Junior ISAs for the majority of families.

The government also says it is working to speed up the Court application process for families, which currently takes more the 6 months. They also say that applications can be made online, but you have to print them off, scan them in and upload them. We think this is another barrier for families and why the process must be made simpler.

How you can support the campaign

 We have been overwhelmed with the level of support for our Child Trust Fund campaign, thank you so much. More than 1500 of you have emailed your MP pushing for this change. Parents are also speaking out in the media.

Please share this with your contacts – many parents do not realise that this will affect them.

Read the BBC News online report highlighting this issue.

Martin Lewis has recently spoken out against children being locked out of their child trust funds accounts, and wrote about it on his blog

Watch our Facebook Live on Child Trust Funds, Junior ISAs and mental capacity or watch it on YouTube.