New survey shows 87% of families believe that their disabled child won’t be able to access money held within their Child Trust Fund once they reach the age of 18. This means that families with disabled children, who are already dealing with complex and challenging lives, will need to spend their own money to access the fund
Across the UK, parents and carers of disabled children have taken part in a survey regarding Child Trust Funds. The survey was launched by Renaissance Legal, the leading provider of legal services to families and carers of disabled and vulnerable people, as part of its #ChildTrustFundAccess campaign.
The UK Government introduced Child Trust Funds in 2005 with the aim of ensuring that every child has savings at the age of 18. However, there was no consideration made for the needs of disabled and vulnerable people, who may not have the mental capacity to access and manage their funds once they reach 18.
For those that do not have the mental capacity to manage their finances, families and carers will need to apply to the Court of Protection to act as the child’s deputy. This process can cost in excess of £400, a sum which may exceed the amount held in the Child Trust Fund.
Survey highlights scale of the problem
The results of the survey, where the majority of parents were concerned or unclear about their child’s ability to access the money, is a clear indication that thousands more disabled children in the UK may be disadvantaged.
Additionally, 90% didn’t know how to access the money on behalf of their child in the event that they do not have the mental capacity to do so themselves.
One respondent commented: If I had known when she was a baby that my daughter had autism and a severe learning disability, I would never have paid more money into the account. We have a lot of worry and stress to contend with and the possibility of having to apply for court of protection is an added complication. I am angry that we will have to spend a lot of money to ensure that our daughter’s money is safe for her.
An online petition has been launched, calling central government to make a change which has gathered more than 370 signatures.
Katherine Miller, Director at Renaissance Legal, says “The results of this survey highlight a serious issue with Child Trust Funds for disabled children. Not only do the vast majority of families believe their disabled child will lack the mental capacity to access their money, but families are also unsure how to go about doing so themselves. As well as the process being grossly unfair for those families, there is a lack of information as to how they can access the money their child is entitled to.”