The battle to access Child Trust Funds continues
Last year, we heard about the many thousands of disabled children who faced being “locked out” of their Child Trust Funds, because they will not be deemed to have the capacity to manage their own finances - and it seems very little has moved on.
Child Trust Funds were set up under Labour in 2005 for children born from 2002 onwards as a way of helping parents save for their children’s future. The Fund offered a government top-up voucher worth up to £500 if parents contributed too and thousands of families jumped at the chance to put a little money away.
As many of those children are now reaching 18 - the legal age at which they can access the funds - there are now questions as to whether or not those children who have learning disabilities may not be deemed fit to access the funds.
In fact, according to the news this month, more than 160,000 parents of children with learning disabilities are currently fighting their way through the courts. Many are complaining that the process to apply for the fund is extremely taxing - with some 59 page forms involved in the process.
Plus, those parents must pay £365 in fees to apply to the Court of Protection for permission to access their child’s finances, and, they also could pay £350 to GPs who must certify that their child lacks mental capacity to manage or access their finances.. There’s also the emotional toll from all of this, with parents saying that when they applied for the Trust Fund, there was no indication that this might become an issue when their child turned 18 - despite many of them checking at the point of application.
One parent of a 17-year-old disabled child told ThisisMoney.co.uk there had never been any indication of any problems accessing the money, saying: “The Government were, at the time, actively encouraging parents and grandparents to add to the Child Trust Fund for the child's future. Had we known, or even suspected, that there would be difficulties accessing the funds, we would never have encouraged others, such as grandparents, to add to it at birthdays.”
Unfortunately it seems as though there is little progress on this front, despite there being a working group in parliament, working with the Government to resolve the difficulties surrounding the access of Child Trust Funds for disabled children. We will be keeping an eye on the news surrounding this story and let you know of any developments.
In the meantime, if you are applying for deputyship to act on your child’s behalf, or you would like other legal advice, Downs Solicitors can help. Contact us to find out more information.