As we reported back in December, our Child Trust Fund Access campaign took an interesting turn when the Ministry of Justice announced an update to the Child Trust Fund scheme detailing the ability for parents to apply for a fee waiver in exceptional circumstances. However far from being a solution, the revised process enabling the removal of Court fees instead means that parents will be required to become full financial deputies to be able to access the savings when the child turns 18. This will involve the payment of a £100 registration fee, as well as annual supervisory fees.

Since then, we have been campaigning tirelessly for a fairer process to enable the thousands of young adults with disabilities who are ‘locked out’ of their own savings to access their money without having to apply to the Court.

We are pleased to report that the past week has seen further developments, with continued national media coverage, support from leading political figures and a second appearance for the issue in the House of Lords. Here is a summary of the key activity:

Channel 4 News

On 10th February 2021, Channel 4 News featured the story for a second time. Chief Correspondent Alex Thomson spoke exclusively to Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister who was responsible for bringing in the Child Trust Fund scheme, who echoed his support for the campaign. His official statement can be read here.

The news piece also included vital input from a West Sussex family whose autistic son Ryan is impacted, an update from OneFamily (the largest provider of Child Trust Funds), longstanding supporter of the campaign Sir Ed Davey as well as an update from The Turner family, who shared their son Mikey’s story with us last year and who have been campaigning tirelessly alongside us. Philip Warford, Managing Director at Renaissance Legal, was also interviewed about the solution that we propose.

The piece can be found here: https://www.channel4.com/news/gordon-brown-calls-for-action-to-help-people-with-learning-disabilities-get-financial-support

Sunday Times

On Sunday 14th February The Sunday Times featured the campaign with two stories. Firstly, an interview with the Cook family who shared how and why the current rules disadvantage their son Ryan, together with a quote from Philip Warford about the proposed solution. Alongside this was an exclusive piece from Lord Blunkett, who has lent his support to the campaign.

The piece can be read here: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/child-trust-funds-savings-of-5-000-children-in-limbo-j2mmsz8fg 

House of Lords

On Thursday 11 February 2021 the Child Trust Fund Access campaign was debated  in the House of Lords for a second time. Lord Young of Cookham asked what the Government has done since the working group was announced in December.

The session can be watched here: https://www.renaissancelegal.co.uk/blog/house-of-lords-debates-child-trust-fund-access-campaign-again/

Support from Lord Blunkett and Lord Young

Lord Blunkett and Lord Young have been generous in their support to the campaign, observing that “We are living in pressured times. We can all agree that families with a disabled child are under more pressure than most”. 

Their joint statement is published here: https://www.renaissancelegal.co.uk/blog/house-of-lords-debates-child-trust-fund-access-campaign-again/

Online petition

The Child Trust Fund Access online petition has in excess of 5700 signatures and continues to grow daily.

The petition is a key element of the campaign, demonstrating the number of families who are disadvantaged by the current system and who feel passionate that change is essential.

We still 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 as it helps apply the required pressure to convince the government and providers that the system must be changed, before more children turn 18 and find themselves unable to access savings that their parents invested in for their future.

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

What’s happening now?

Alongside our ongoing lobbying, the finance industry is looking to implement a system whereby providers release funds to Appointee parents following maturity of the Child Trust Fund, where the child is proven not to have mental capacity and the fund value is below £5k. Whilst we are encouraged that the industry is looking to carve out a better solution, our mission is still for the legal process to be changed and we will continue campaigning until there is a resolution for all families affected.

Keep up to date

If you would like to read further updates about the Child Trust Fund campaign, you can do so here: https://www.renaissancelegal.co.uk/blog/category/blog/child-trust-fund-access/

Social media is an important channel, and the best way to keep up to date is on Twitter, and by following the #ChildTrustFundAcccess hashtag.

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