Reclaim your Child Trust Fund
You could have £100s or even £1,000s in hidden savings
If you were born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011 (or have a child who was), you could be one of one million missing out on as much as £1,000 in savings, lying dormant in a Child Trust Fund. It's quick and simple to check and claim the account if so – we've step-by-step help below.
We've three guides on Child Trust Funds, so before you read on, check you're in the right place...
Not sure if you have a Child Trust Fund?
This guide helps you find lost CTFs.
How CTFs work and how to get the best interest rates on your cash.
First, have a watch of Martin's Child Trust Fund video explainer...
MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis explains what this is all about in this short video. Then the rest of the guide will take you through the practicals of how to find and reclaim your Child Trust Fund account...
Lost track of your Child Trust Fund?
Don't worry, it’s still your money – you just need to track it down.
If you were born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011, a Child Trust Fund (CTF) would have been opened for you, with cash locked away until you turn 18.
The state started everyone off with a free cash voucher of up to £250 (or £500 if your family were on a low income), meaning every CTF within those dates had money it.
Of the 6.3 million CTFs that were opened, it’s thought that up to a million of them are ‘lost’ – meaning the account holders have forgotten about them or might never have been aware they existed.
There could be as much as £1,000 (and for some even more) in the account
Until 31 July 2010, the government added the first £250 or £500 as above, plus a further £250 or £500 if the child turned seven before that date. From 1 August 2010 to 2 January 2011, the second payment was scrapped while the initial payment ranged from £50 to £500. Either way, every account has a sum of money sitting in it.
The idea was to encourage parents to save for their child's future, but even if nothing else was added, there's likely at least £100 to £500 in each account, and possibly more thanks to the interest that would have been added.
In fact, HMRC estimates the average balance is £2,100, so if anyone had added to the initial amount, even if it was a few times a long time ago, you could find yourself with a lot more.
Find and reclaim a Child Trust Fund
In order to reclaim your CTF, you'll need to know which bank, building society or investment provider it's with.
If you already know this, you can simply contact them directly, though if you don't, HMRC has a handy tool where you can find out which provider your CTF is with.
The tool is free and can be used by parents, and teens if they're 16+ – here's how:
- Go to HMRC's tool. You'll need to log in using a 'Government Gateway ID'. This is a series of 12 numbers that you use, alongside a password, to access online Government services. If you don't have one, you can register in a few minutes – you'll need an email address and mobile phone to receive a security code.
If you have a Government Gateway ID but have forgotten it or your password, go to the relevant 'I have forgotten my...' links and follow the steps.
- Fill in your (or your child's) details. Including name, address, date of birth, phone number and National Insurance number.
- You should hear from HMRC within three weeks. It should tell you which provider holds the account – if HMRC needs more information, it'll contact you by phone or post.
- Contact the CTF provider. It can reunite you with the account.
If you're 16 or older, you can do this yourself – just bear in mind that while you can find your CTF before you turn 18, you won't be able to access the cash until then.
If you're a parent with children younger than 16, you can find out where the CTF is held on their behalf by following the process above.
You'll need their Unique Reference Number (check for it on any old paperwork related to Child Trust Funds) or their National Insurance number – if you don't have these details, you'll need to apply by post.
Accessing a CTF for a child who lacks the mental capacity to do so
If your child lacks the mental capacity to make financial decisions as a result of disability, injury or disease, then there'll unfortunately be some legal hoops to jump through to access a CTF set up in their name once they turn 18.
If they have capacity to make some decisions, they may be able to make a lasting power of attorney (LPA) to allow you to make financial decisions on their behalf.
If they lack the mental capacity to do this, you'll need to apply to make financial decisions on their behalf via the Court of Protection, which can grant both one-off orders as well as appointing deputies to make ongoing decisions for someone lacking mental capacity.
In July, Martin wrote to the Children’s Minister about this Court of Protection process, detailing the pain, stress and cost of this process for parents who must go through it. He asked the Minister to look again at the issue and champion it within Government, saying that the solution the Government has come up with so far isn’t good enough. Read his blog, including the letter sent to the Minister, here.
Found the account? How to max its interest
Now you've found your hidden savings, take a moment to celebrate. Then put your sensible hat back on to work out how to maximise the interest you can get. Your options will be guided by whether you can take your cash out of the CTF or not...
Under 18? Transfer to a junior ISA for better rates
If you (or your child if you're the parent or guardian) are still under 18 and the money remains locked away, you can leave it where it is, but it could be worth transferring it into a junior ISA (JISA) if it offers a better interest rate (they typically do). Read our full guide to maximising your Child Trust Fund interest.
Our junior ISAs guide lists the top payers and which ones allow transfers in from a CTF – you may need to request the correct transfer form when you apply.
Over 18 and can access the cash? You've more options
The cash in your CTF is no longer locked away, so you're free to do whatever you like with the cash. See our what to do with a maturing Child Trust Fund guide for full help.
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