Teenagers must act now to check what they are entitled to, with one year to go until Child Trust Funds come of age.
The countdown is on for millions of Child Trust Funds
- Sunday 1 September marked one year until the first ‘Child Trust Fund kids’ come of age and gain access to their accounts.
- An estimated £9.3billion is invested in Child Trust Funds in the UK.
- A CTF with just £250 contributed from the Government in 2002 could be worth over £800 by now, if it had been in an investment account tracking the FTSE 100.
Almost £2.5 billion is thought to be sitting idle in Child Trust Funds (CTFs) taken out for children who’ve since become separated from their accounts. The first youngsters to be granted access to their government-sponsored accounts will turn 18 one year on Sunday, but The Share Foundation believes around one third of all accounts are lost to their rightful owners.
CTFs were put in place for all children born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011 provided they were living in the UK and not subject to immigration controls. This equates to over six million CTFs created, worth over £9 billion. It’s estimated over one million of these accounts are ‘Addressee Gone Away’ – lost to the young person concerned – and a further possible two million young people have little or no awareness of the money entitled to them. This disproportionately affects disadvantaged families, with roughly 80% of CTF accounts for families receiving Child Tax Credit being ‘missing’, according to The Share Foundation.
Our analysis shows the amount in many CTFs could have already more than tripled over the course of a childhood, if they’ve been held in investment CTF accounts. One invested in a simple FTSE 100 tracker fund, for example, could have returned £801.10 from the initial £250 government contribution in September 2002.
This is drastically higher than what could be expected if the money had been held in a cash CTF; where a standard savings account could have accumulated up to £351.81. After inflation this would effectively be worth £242.71, about 3% less than the initial government gift.
Gavin Oldham, Chairman of The Share Foundation recently commented: “As the oldest Child Trust Fund recipient reaches 17 years of age on 1st September, we will be entering a period of 10 years in which over six million young people throughout the UK could benefit substantially. These fortunate teenagers already own their accounts, although huge numbers don’t know it. It is one of the biggest opportunities, and challenges, in the field of personal finance today.
Regardless of how their parents or guardians chose to invest their Child Trust Fund, the money belongs to the generation of six million children with CTFs who will come of age in the next decade. They deserve to know who manages their account, and how they can access it.
We’ve worked with HMRC to make the process of finding a CTF easier. Not only do we provide a landing page as an easy route into the Government Gateway facility, but in coordination with HMRC we’re considering whether a simplified ‘Subject Access Request’ can be developed to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to find their accounts.
After a decade of relative neglect, the years ahead are vital for achieving the original purpose of the CTF. I am determined to ensure that, working with my colleagues in The Share Centre and The Share Foundation and beyond, the scheme does indeed make a significant contribution to breaking the cycle of deprivation in the United Kingdom, and to helping all young people to develop their potential in adult life."
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