Mutual providers of Child Trust Funds confirm commitment to support young people with a learning difficulty
20 October, 2021
The government has announced it will shortly be issuing a consultation designed to streamline the process by which children with learning difficulties can access their Child Trust Fund (CTF) when it matures. On 11 October the House of Lords held a debate on the issue, during which it was suggested around 10,000 young people with learning difficulties have had a CTF mature over the last 12 months, of whom many have faced extra costs or long delays to access their funds. In fact only 4 families in this situation have successfully navigated the current Court of Protection process which is in place, to gain access to their CTF.
As a result, all 8 member organisations of the Association of Financial Mutuals (AFM) with a book of Child Trust Funds*, who between them manage a third of all CTFs, have agreed to a protocol which allows for balances of up to £5,000 to be released, without the need for their parent or guardian to adopt the usual Court of Protection process, and with proportionate safeguarding of the interests of the CTF holder. The protocol is a process that is similar to the fair access protocol used by The Department for Education to enable vulnerable people to obtain a school place, and allows the release of funds against documentation that the parents or carers may already have.
We support a formal legal solution in development by the Ministry of Justice. Until a formal solution to this problem is achieved, the recognition of the Fair Access Protocol by the Government would enable providers and disability charities to support more families as their child’s account reaches maturity, by allowing clear signposting of the protocol as an alternative to the Courts Process for smaller balances.
Martin Shaw, Chief Executive of AFM said:
“As a sector, mutuals are keen to support the vulnerable and those least able to access financial services. All AFM members with a CTF book have agreed to simplify the maturity process, to reduce costs to parents and carers, and to ensure young people receive the money due to them without delay. We are doing this ahead of the government consultation and planned changes to the law, because it is very much the mutual way of doing business”.
*AFM members with a CTF book are:
- Foresters Friendly Society
- Healthy Investment
- Scottish Friendly
- Sheffield Mutual
- Shepherds Friendly
- Transport Friendly
- Unity Mutual (The Oddfellows)