Disabled children who turn 18 from 1st September 2020 may not be able to access the money saved in their Child Trust Funds. Parents of disabled and vulnerable children who are turning 18 need to review their situation and take action now.
The first children in the UK to receive a Child Trust Fund will be 18 on the 1st September 2020. Experts at Renaissance Legal are warning that this – together with the impact Covid-19 is having on the Court of Protection – will cause a ‘perfect storm’ of issues whereby thousands of young adults with disabilities may not be able to access their money going forward.
All in the UK born between 1st September 2002 and 2nd January 2011 were given funds to open a Child Trust Fund. The aim of the scheme was to ensure that all children had some savings in place when they reached the age of 18. However, the funds can only be accessed by the child when they are 18 if they have the ability to understand and sign the documents that are required to access the money.
In 2016, Renaissance Legal launched a campaign to highlight the critical problem this poses for some disabled children who do not have the mental capacity to manage their finances when they turn 18. These children’s families and carers will need to apply to the Court of Protection to act as the child’s Deputy to be able to access the money.
The process of applying to the Court of Protection costs £365. This is an amount of money which may actually be more than the amount held in the Child Trust Fund. There is also the risk of delays as a result of a backlog of cases due to Covid-19.
It understood that the Court of Protection has prioritised applications relating to health and welfare during the pandemic and that there is a backlog of finance-related applications to process. These delays will impact any family needing to make an application for deputy-ship to access their child’s Child Trust Fund savings. The first group of children will turn 18 on September 1st, and every day thereafter there is a young adult with a disability who potentially cannot access their own money.
What people are saying
Renaissance Legal has spoken to many families whose children have a Child Trust Fund and do not have the mental capacity to access their money. This money will be trapped as their child will not be able to take the necessary steps to release it.
A survey undertaken in 2017 indicated that 87% of families did not believe their disabled child would be able to access money held within their Child Trust Fund once they turn 18, with a further 90% unsure of how to access the money on behalf of their child.
Additionally, there are over 3,500 signatures on an online petition calling for change, and hundreds of parents have shared their feelings.
What should parents do immediately?
Renaissance Legal are urging families not to delay taking action. If parents don’t know which provider holds the Child Trust Fund then they can check with HM Revenue & Customs by logging in or registering on their Government Gateway.
The Child Trust Fund provider will have their own requirements for releasing or managing the funds and we suggest contacting the provider directly to get all of the details. The same process applies to any JISAs.
Further information about the campaign can be accessed here: https://www.renaissancelegal.co.uk/child-trust-fund-access/