Child Trust Fund money continues to be forgotten.
Nearly all children born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011 were the lucky recipients of a government handout – usually £250 or £500 – which was locked away in a Child Trust Fund (CTF). CTFs were introduced by the Chancellor at the time, Gordon Brown, with the worthy idea that every child would have some savings to their name when they reached the age of 18. It was hoped that parents and others would make regular top ups to the modest government payment to increase these coming-of-age funds.
Like so many other well intentioned resolutions, the CTF scheme was far from successful. The initial government payment was sent as a voucher to the child’s parent or guardian. If the vouchers were not used to open a CTF within 12 months, HMRC was left to open a default CTF for the child, with the CTF provider selected at random from an accredited list. No less than 30% of CTFs were opened this way.
In 2010, the poor take up of CTFs encouraged the new Chancellor George Osborne to make a significant cut to payments. Eventually, from the beginning of 2011, the scheme was closed, albeit payments into existing CTFs, by parents for instance, were allowed to continue. By then there were 6.3 million children with CTFs.
The latest detailed data from HMRC (from April 2021) revealed the total investment in CTFs, at that time, as nearing £10.5 billion, with more than four in five of them having a value of under £2,500. (The average value in April 2021 was £1,911 and is currently sitting around £2,100).
HMRC now faces the opposite problem to the one it encountered at the start, when parents overlooked this new investment opportunity: CTF pots are not being claimed by 18 year olds. To quote a recent HMRC press release, “Tens of thousands of teenagers in the UK who have not yet claimed their matured Child Trust Funds savings could have thousands of pounds waiting for them”. It is likely that many teenagers (and their parents) have forgotten or were unaware of the CTF’s existence, especially if it was set up by default.
To trace a CTF, go to https://www.gov.uk/child-trust-funds/find-a-child-trust-fund.
CTFs were replaced by Junior ISAs, which stand more chance of being remembered at age 18 as they must be established by parents or guardians and do not involve any direct government contributions.
The value of investments and the income they produce can fall as well as rise. You may get back less than you invested.
Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance..