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Families of disabled children trying to access Child Trust Funds can save or reclaim £365+ after Government overhaul

Families of disabled children trying to access Child Trust Funds can save or reclaim £365+ after Government overhaul

Families of disabled children trying to access savings held in Child Trust Funds can save or reclaim £365+ after a Government fees overhaul – but in both scenarios you need to act. Here's what you need to know. 

The move comes after parents and campaigners, including The Times, raised concerns that the process of applying to access Child Trust Funds (CTFs) was both costly and stressful. The move has been welcomed by learning disability charity Mencap, though The Times argues having to go to court in the first place still isn't fair.

If a young person doesn't have the capacity to manage their own finances, their parent or guardian has to apply to the Court of Protection to manage and access money on their behalf – and until now, for those who had a certain amount in savings, this came at a cost, starting from £365. But now, while you still need to go to court, fees for doing so will be waived and those who have already paid can get a refund. See below for more on this. 

Separately, the Government adds that it will set up a working group to consider what it can do in future to make the process easier for families who need to apply to the Court of Protection to access a CTF.

CTFs are tax-free savings accounts for kids born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011. Families were given free cash vouchers from the Government of £250 or £500 to put into the account – and some were also given top-ups, meaning children could have been given £1,000 in total. See our Child Trust Funds guide for more information.

How are fees changing?

Until now, whether you were charged a fee to access CTFs on behalf of children with learning disabilities depended on the age of the child when you applied to access the account, as well as the amount the child had in savings and assets.

Here's how the system previously worked and how it will now operate going forward: 

  • Child aged 18 or over with more than £3,000 in savings or assets (including in their CTF). Previously, fees of at least £365 were applicable. But now the Lord Chancellor can decide on a case-by-case basis whether to waive fees, and the Government says its aim is that no one will need to pay.

  • Child aged 18 or over with less than £3,000 in savings or assets (including in their CTF). Fees can currently be waived and this will continue to be the case.

  • Child aged 17 or under with more than £3,000 in savings or assets, not including their CTF. Previously, fees of at least £365 were applicable. But now the Lord Chancellor can decide on a case-by-case basis whether to waive fees, and the Government says its aim is that no one will need to pay.

  • Child aged 17 or under with less than £3,000 in assets, not including their CTF. Fees can currently be waived and this will continue to be the case.

How can I apply for fees to be waived?

If you haven't already paid court fees but expected to do so, here's what you need to know:

  • First, print off and fill in this form, which is available on Gov.uk, along with guidance on how to complete it. 
  • Completed forms need to be posted to Court of Protection, PO Box 70185, First Avenue House, 42-49 High Holborn, London, WC1A 9JA, DX 160013 Kingsway 7 – we've asked if it's Freepost or if you need to pay.
  • The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) says fees to apply to the Court of Protection will then be waived. We've asked it to confirm if there are any scenarios where you may still have to pay, and we'll update this story as soon as we hear back.

You'll also need to go through the separate process of applying for the court order.

I've already paid fees – how can I get a refund?

If you've already paid fees, they won't automatically be refunded. In the past, you had three months to apply for a refund after a final order was issued by the Court of Protection, but now the MOJ says it expects everyone who applies for a refund – however far back – to get their money back. We've asked it to confirm if there are any scenarios where you may still have to pay, and we'll update this story when we hear back.

Here's what you need to know:

  • First, print off and fill in this form, which is available on Gov.uk, along with guidance on how to complete it. You'll be asked whether you've already paid the fee, so mark that you have in this instance.
  • Completed forms need to be posted to Court of Protection, PO Box 70185, First Avenue House, 42-49 High Holborn, London, WC1A 9JA, DX 160013 Kingsway 7 – we've asked if it's Freepost or if you need to pay.
  • Refunds due will be paid "as soon as possible" according to the MOJ, although it couldn't give an exact timeframe. Refunds will be issued using the same method the fee was originally paid with – we've asked what happens if this method of payment has since changed.

What does the Government say?

Justice Minister Alex Chalk said: "We want to reduce the obstacles families face in supporting young people who lack mental capacity.

"This fee remission will ensure that families who need to go to the Court of Protection to access these funds will not suffer financially as a result. Our working group will look at improving this process even further, making it more streamlined and accessible."

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