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Child Trust Funds (CTFs) are a form of tax-free savings account that were available to children born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011.

The Government contributed towards these funds which become available for beneficiaries to withdraw on their 18th birthday.

Over the course of the scheme, 6.3 million accounts were opened, and the Government paid £2.0 billion into CTFs. As of April 2022, the market value of Child Trust Funds either not yet matured, or matured but unclaimed, stood at £10.7 billion.

Ongoing problems

Beneficiaries of CTFs started to turn 18 in September 2020, and from then it has become apparent that many are either not aware they have a CTF or are unable to access their CTF.

This is partly because:

  • HMRC set up many CTFs on behalf of children without their family’s awareness
  • There were problems with how CTF providers kept in contact with children or parents/guardians throughout childhood
  • Some beneficiaries do not know the identity of their provider as their CTF was sold to a different financial institution

The National Audit Office reported that as of April 2021, 45% of matured CTFs had not been claimed.

Another issue is that some parents and carers have had difficulty accessing CTFs on behalf of young people lacking mental capacity.

These issues and others have been the focus of investigations by the National Audit Office and the Commons Public Accounts Committee.

The Government has outlined its steps to address these issues in its response to the Committee’s report. It has said it is confident that its current strategies are sufficient and proportionate to reunite beneficiaries with CTFs.

It has also said it will re-evaluate the scheme, following criticism that it has not met its original policy objectives to help young people develop saving habits, understand the benefits of saving, and make better financial decisions.


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