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Hope for families whose children have mental incapacity

There’s some hope for the families of young adults who do not have the mental capacity to manage their financial affairs in the form of a Government consultation that has recently been launched.

December 2021

Your chance to have your say

This consultation is looking at the option of providing a small payments scheme that will help those young people with smaller balances to access their savings when they reach maturity without having to go to court. I would urge anyone who could be positively impacted by this change to make their feelings felt before the consultation closes on 12 January 2022.

The consultation document looks a little intimidating, but I wouldn’t want this to put people off completing it, since their voices and experiences are extremely important. So, I would suggest that they consider whether the scheme is workable for them and then fill in the sections that they feel are most relevant and give examples of the way that the process would help. Alternatively, they can simply provide a summary of their situation and how a small payments scheme that avoids needing to go to the Court of Protection would help them, or maybe highlight areas that might prove problematic. The important thing is that real people get to have their say and the opportunity to shape the Government’s decision-making on a key issue that could help their families.

Child Trust Fund customers

As the UK’s biggest child trust fund provider, holding over a quarter of the market, OneFamily has lobbied hard for this change. We became aware of the difficulties being faced by our customers as the first accounts came to maturity in 2020.

Why change is needed

It’s estimated that 200,000 account holders could need extra support to withdraw their own money from their accounts. However, under the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) their parents or carers would be required to complete 59 pages of complex forms, source files of medical documentation and make an application to the Court of Protection just to access their children’s savings. It can be a stressful, costly and time-consuming process and only a tiny handful of people have accessed their accounts through this route.

It feels very unfair to insist that the families of these teens need to go to court to enable them to get at their own money simply because they lack mental capacity. It’s not inclusive and adds an extra layer of strain to the very families who could probably find the money helpful in supporting their child – whether that’s with IT equipment, mobility aids or even a family holiday to build some happy memories.

The MCA is there to protect the most vulnerable in society, no-one could possibly dispute that, and if we’re looking at large balances or perhaps big estates then the courts are absolutely the right route. However, where savings in children’s accounts are less than £5,000, it really does feel that we are currently punishing a minority severely for what is actually quite a small risk.

A huge step forward

A number of child trust fund providers, including OneFamily, have already established a process, whereby they will release the savings against documentation that the parents or carers already have. This has meant that, at OneFamily, we’ve been able to help nearly 300 teens to access their money so far. But this process is not recognised by the Ministry of Justice.

So, the consultation is a huge step forward. It means that the Government has identified that this is a problem and that something needs to be done to help those without mental capacity to access their savings. It’s not just child trust fund holders that could be benefited by this scheme; the holders of other accounts such as Junior ISAs or ISAs could also find it easier to access their money.

We’re pleased that the Government has listened to the concerns that have been raised by the industry and the families of the young adults who have been most affected. This is potentially a positive change for the better that could be quickly and easily implemented.

Teddy Nyahasha
OneFamily CEO

Find out more

The Mental Capacity Small Payments Scheme consultation closes on 12 January 2022.

View consultation

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Teddy is a strong supporter of diversity, inclusion and equality. A passionate believer in social mobility and financial inclusion; he is using his position as CEO of OneFamily to help the young, the disadvantaged and the marginalised to reach beyond their expectations. His view is that everyone in society should have the same opportunities to access financial products – regardless of their wealth.

A father and son sit at a table while looking at a tablet, laughing together.

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