There is £1.7 billion languishing unclaimed in Child Trust Fund (CTF) accounts that a million people aged 18 to 20 could take out or reinvest.
This week is the third anniversary of the first CTFs maturing. They were created by the then Chancellor Gordon Brown in the early noughties. Every baby born from 1 September 2002 to 2 January 2011 had a CTF set up for them, seeded with at least £250 of public money. Further Treasury contributions and gifts into their funds by relatives and friends make the average fund worth around £2,000.
Everyone with a CTF becomes entitled to take the money out or reinvest it on their 18th birthday. But more than four out of ten of those eligible have not done so.
Some are completely unaware they have the money. Every parent of a new baby was sent vouchers to open a fund but, if they did not do so within 12 months, the Treasury opened one for the child. Other parents who did open the fund have forgotten about it or do not know how to find it. If the CTF is invested, providers will carry on taking up to 1.5 per cent a year from it, reducing the yield considerably. A CTF in cash may still be languishing in an account that pays very low interest rates.
Nevertheless, until 2 January 2029 everyone who reaches 18 has a cash birthday gift waiting for them. They can roll over the amount into an adult individual savings account – perhaps to begin saving for a deposit on a home, or help with education costs. Or they can just take the money out and spend it – buy a car or have a party!
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A recent report by MPs on the Commons public Accounts Committee criticised HM Revenue & Customs for not doing enough to reunite people with their money. So every Radio Times reader with a new adult family member who reached 18 on 1 September 2020 or later should
check they know about it, as no one else will!
Lost CTFs can be tracked down free at findctf.sharefound.org. It could be the most valuable 18th birthday present they get!