Almost one million children are at risk of losing a government bonus worth at least £500 either because parents weren’t aware they’d been given the cash, or have forgotten about it, warns a new report.
Most children born between September 2002 and January 2011 were given free savings vouchers by the government through the Child Trust Fund (CTF) scheme, in a move to give all children a savings pot when they reached adulthood, regardless of their backgrounds.
But over £600 million of CTF cash doled out by the government has never been touched, and is at risk of being given to charity if it is not claimed, warns Gavin Oldham, managing director at Share Radio.
If vouchers weren’t used, they was invested automatically by HMRC, and under the government’s Dormant Asset Programme launched in 2010, money that goes untouched for 15 years or more can be ‘volunteered’ by banks and building societies into a fund to support charities.
Mr Oldham adds: “I certainly believe that money that's been earmarked for a child really ought to be available for that child. It's a big help to give them opportunity to succeed in later life.
“There is a worry here that if these assets aren't reclaimed, they could fall into the dormant assets pot.”
Will my child have a CTF?
To be eligible for a CTF, children had to be born on or after 1 September 2002 and before 2 January 2011.
Children born later didn’t qualify, but instead can have a Junior Isa. Like CTFs, these let children invest or save tax-free until they’re 18, but they don’t receive the government cash bonus.
How much is my child’s CTF worth?
Parents of qualifying new-born children were sent a £250 voucher to save or invest on their children’s behalf, with another £250 voucher when the child turned seven – meaning you could have a pot of at least £500.
Children born into low income families (those earning up to £19,000) received additional cash.
Parents and grandparents could also add to the savings.
How do I get my child’s CTF money back?
“The good news is that if you have lost track of your child’s Trust Fund, the money hasn’t disappeared and can still be claimed,” says Sarah Pennells, presenter at Share Radio and founder of Savvywoman.co.uk.
To check if your children have an unclaimed Child Trust Fund, visit HMRC.
If it transpires they do have one, you’ll be told which bank or investment company holds the account.
The money can’t however be accessed until the child turns 18.
In the interim, you can choose either to keep the CTF until then, or switch it to a Junior Isa.
See our Cash Isas guide for the top paying Junior Isa accounts.