In 2016, we launched the Child Trust Fund Access campaign and at the end of August this year we reported that the first children in the UK to receive a Child Trust Fund will be 18 on the 1st September 2020. We shared our concern that this – together with delays in the Court of Protection as a result of Covid-19 – is set to cause a ‘perfect storm’ of problems whereby thousands of young adults with disabilities may not be able to access their money. So, autumn 2020 is truly a pivotal time.
A key objective for the #ChildTrustFundAccess campaign all along has been the need to raise awareness of the issue, both in terms of ensuring the families who will be affected are informed, and in terms of lobbying the government, providers and key decision-makers to try and achieve a change to how the ‘rules’ work.
Following a press release we issued to the media in August we are pleased to report that there has been significant national media interest and coverage of the story. Here is a summary of the key activity:
Channel 4 News
On 26th August, Channel 4 News broke the exclusive story with a brave, in-depth piece that has been the catalyst of many conversations about the need for change since. Chief Correspondent Alex Thomson spoke to two families about how they will be impacted when their disabled children will not be able to access their money. They also interviewed Philip Warford, Managing Director at Renaissance Legal, about a proposed solution.
On August 27th, BBC South News featured the story and again, interviewed the people at the heart of this story – the families themselves. Philip Warford shared a proposal to resolve the issue of access for disabled children, calling for government ministers and providers alike to work together to implement a change in how Child Trust Funds are accessed.
BBC Money Box
There has been little sign of the media interest waning, and BBC Money Box also covered the story on Saturday 12th September.
The episode can be downloaded here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000mhwq
Support from MP Vicky Foxcroft
Labour MP and Shadow Minister for Disabled People Vicky Foxcroft has lent her support to the campaign, appearing on Channel 4 News calling for the Conservative party to ‘do better and seriously look at the issue’.
Partnering with the Turner family
Following the media interest in the campaign, we have kept in close contact with Andrew and Jenny Turner, parents of Mikey who turns 18 shortly, and who featured in the Channel 4 and BBC South piece alongside us. The Turner family, who are truly inspirational in how they have shared their personal story to help attract the required media interest to help apply pressure to decision-makers, very kindly gave us an exclusive interview here: https://www.renaissancelegal.co.uk/blog/what-if-its-too-late-an-interview-with-a-family-whose-child-with-a-life-limiting-condition-has-money-held-in-a-child-trust-fund/
The Guardian has also helped shine a light on the issue having published a letter from Andrew Turner explaining why those with mental capacity issues will be unable to take control of their money. This piece can be read here.
The Child Trust Fund Access online petition now has in excess of 4300 signatures and is growing daily.
The petition remains a key element of the campaign, helping to demonstrate the number of families who disagree with how the system works currently and 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?
At the time of writing, we are encouraged by a number of conversations that we understand are happening, concerning a number of providers and their desire to move to a different system for disabled children who are impacted and their families. However, despite having reached out to a number of ministers, it is not clear whether the proposals have government backing and are likely to involve legislative change. Without this, there are many unanswered issues and a potential risk that any ‘quick fix’ solution may not be fit for purpose in the long term. There is still much to do 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.