Hundreds of millions of pounds is missing – and it belongs to our children, perhaps to someone in your family.
Every child born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011 has a Child Trust Fund, and there will be hundreds, perhaps thousands of pounds in it. But up to a million of these funds are languishing unloved and unknown, and that could deprive the children of their money when they reach 18.
Child Trust Funds were Gordon Brown’s bright idea when he was chancellor. Every newborn child would get a gift of £250 – double that for children in poorer families. An equal payment would be made on their seventh birthday. The Coalition Government cancelled the scheme to save more than £500 million a year. So the generation of children born within the above dates have a Child Trust Fund and those born up to 31 July 2003 will have had the extra payment on their seventh birthday. It’s important to know that the money belongs to the child.
From their 16th birthday they can manage it themselves, and at 18 they can use it as they choose.
Children born between 1 September 2002 and February 2003 are now 16. They will have had at least £500 and in some cases £1,000 put into their account by the state. In addition parents could add to the money, up to £1,200 initially and later up to £3,600 or more.
The starting money was paid to a parent with a voucher that they could use to open a Child Trust Fund account. But the parents of 1.7 million children never engaged with the process, and after 12 months HMRC opened a stakeholder investment account for them.
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The Tax Incentivised Savings Association estimates that a million accounts are “lost”. Find a lost Child Trust Fund account at gov.uk/child-trust-funds – search for “Find your provider” (you will need to have or set up a Government Gateway account). Parents should check the account. They should explain to 16-year-old children that they can manage the money themselves and that at 18 they will get a tax-free payment of at least £500, and often a lot more.