Child Trust Funds (Disabled Children)

Thank you for contacting me about accessing Child Trust Funds (CTF) accounts belonging to young adults with learning disabilities or lacking decision-making capacity around their finances. 

I understand the strength of feeling on this issue, and the barriers that it presents to many families and young people. As such, I welcomed that the Ministry of Justice launched a consultation on reforming accessing payments for those lacking mental capacity, and whether there was a need to develop a small payments scheme. 

I can assure you that the Government carefully considered all responses to the consultation. The Government found that lack of access to small payments from CTF accounts often arise due to operational requirements within the court system and lack of awareness about the Mental Capacity Act (MCA). As such, although I understand that the Government has decided not to proceed with a new small payments scheme, a number of new measures have been introduced to make the process of accessing CTF accounts easier. 

Over the past year, the Court of Protection has been piloting the use of a new digital process and have revised its notification requirements which has significantly reduced processing times. To address lack of awareness of the MCA, I understand that the Ministry of Justice will embark on a programme of awareness raising. It is going to engage with other government departments, financial service providers and charities so that the general public is aware of the need to obtain legal authority for adults lacking capacity, and in the case of 16/17 year olds who lack capacity, to do so in good time before they reach 18. Parents and carers of individuals who lack capacity interact with many different services and agencies, such as the Department for Work and Pensions, special educational needs and disabilities schools, banks and social workers. Engagement and joint working with these groups will be important to ensure that parents and carers have access to the support and information they need to assist the person lacking capacity.

The Ministry of Justice has said that these measures will resolve many of the challenges that were raised by respondents to the consultation. As a result, the Government will protect the legal principle that an adult must have proper legal authority to access or deal with property belonging to another adult, while ensuring that those who need to obtain that legal authority can do so in a straightforward and timely way.