A new report has suggested as many as 80,000 young people’s assets could be locked in their Child Trust Funds (CTF) due to their lack of capacity to make decisions.
The current Court of Protection process is described as lengthy and expensive, meaning just 15 CTFs were accessed via this method in 2021.
What’s more, the report – authored by Renaissance Legal and reported by the BBC – suggests that by 2029 there could be up to £210 million locked away in these accounts, with some young people having as much as £75,000 in their account.
“Many of [these] families are fighting on all fronts, for the right education for their child, for the right amount in benefits, for better healthcare, and now they are fighting to get their own money back,” said Philip Warford, managing director, Renaissance Legal. “The financial risk posed by these families is zero – it’s their money in the first place.”
The BBC reports that Lord Blunkett conceded “mistakes were made” by the Labour government that set up the CTFs, a policy which ran between 2002 and 2011, due to a lack of foresight as to how the Mental Capacity Act 2005 would prevent families accessing the money.
“We need to get a bit of common sense into the issue,” he said. “These families are trusted to handle their children’s benefits – government money – by the Department of Work and Pensions. They can be trusted with their own savings.”
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has previously consulted on proposals to alter the process though eventually opted against a separate small payments scheme in order to “protect against fraud and abuse”.
The MoJ told the BBC that “most families who apply would get their fees waived but for some, if the account has more than £3,000, then it would be decided on a case-by-case basis”.
One parent whose daughter, Alana, lacks capacity told the BBC that “the ongoing scrutiny feels like a ‘slur’ on her character, pointing to her pile of receipts and spreadsheets, which are evidence of how she is spending Alana’s benefits and savings”:
“For many years I have been trusted to manage Alana’s disability benefits as her appointee. But now, because I have had to become a deputy, I’m not trusted to manage her money.
Alana loves going to Caffe Nero, so Michele sometimes spends £100 a month on going for coffees with her. It’s her favourite thing to do, and now I feel like I’ve got to justify it.”