Since our last update in November, our #ChildTrustFundAccess campaign has gained real momentum. As well as securing the support of Labour MP for Hove, we’re delighted to have the backing of local charity Families for Autism who we’re working with to help raise awareness of the campaign.

MP Peter Kyle pledges his support

 Labour MP Peter Kyle has pledged his support to the campaign. We contacted him in January to bring the issue of Child Trust Funds for disabled children to his attention and he swiftly confirmed his support:

“I am pleased to support Renaissance Legal’s #ChildTrustFundAccess campaign.

“It is clear that families with a disabled or vulnerable child may be severely disadvantaged when it comes to accessing the money in their Child Trust Fund. The current system does not adequately support such families and I was shocked to learn that they may have to spend additional money to access the funds. But this is the best-case scenario. At worst, some children may not be able to access their money at all. 

I urge all parents and families in Brighton and Hove to pledge their support to the campaign by signing the online petition at change.org”.

Families for Autism come on board as Ambassadors

We are so pleased that our friends at Families for Autism have very kindly offered to help us with the campaign, joining as campaign Ambassadors to help raise awareness of the key issues among families in East Sussex.

The charity, whose work provides support, encouragement and understanding to children and young people on the Autistic Spectrum and their families, are encouraging all parents in East Sussex to sign the online petition and urge their friends and family to do the same.

CEO Mark Jones, whose son Adam who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 22 months, said:

“We are pleased to lend our support to the Child Trust Fund Access campaign. As parents ourselves, we know first-hand how difficult, and upsetting, it can be to learn that our son may not be able to access the money held in his Child Trust Fund. Adam is in the age bracket of children who will be directly impacted by the current system and through the charity’s events and online communities we are helping to raise awareness of this important issue which not enough families know about”.

If you work with or are supported by a charity, (or would even like your workplace to get involved) please contact us about joining the campaign as an Ambassador. Your support would be invaluable.

1400 signatures and counting…

Our last blog post reported 780 signatures on the Child Trust Fund Access online petition and we have since almost doubled the number of supporters. The petition is an important element of the campaign, as it helps demonstrate the number of families who disagree with the current situation and feel passionate that the system for accessing money held in Child Trust Funds puts disabled children at an enormous disadvantage.

Here’s what some families said:

“My eldest son has autism and is the only one with a CTF and to think it may cost in excess the amount that is in the actual fund if it all possible to access it for him if he’s not capable is ridiculous” 

“The government needs to think through how their plans and policies affect all children including those who are vulnerable or have disabilities. Yet again vulnerable and disabled children have been disadvantaged by this scheme which needs to be amended to enable families to access their money without unnecessary large fees”.

Crucially, we need to encourage all parents – not just those with a disabled child or who are directly impacted themselves –  to pledge their support to the campaign so that we can take the issue to central government and call for change to how the system works.

If you would like to sign the petition, you can do so here.

Background about the campaign

The UK Government introduced the Child Trust Fund in 2005 with the aim of ensuring every child has savings at the age of 18. However, the planning was not properly thought through for children who are disabled and vulnerable, not least because these children may not have the mental capacity to be able to access and manage this money at the age of 18. 

If they do not have the mental capacity, then their families/carers will need to apply to the Court of Protection to act as the child’s deputy. This process can cost in excess of £400, a sum which may exceed the amount held in the Child Trust Fund in the first place. It can also be a lengthy and time- consuming process, putting unnecessary pressure and hurdles on families who already live with many challenges.

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