Official Solicitor’s Office for Northern Ireland - Child Trust Funds
A Child Trust Fund (CTF) is a new savings and investment account available to all children born on or after 1 September 2002 and living in the United Kingdom. The CTF account is a long term savings account designed to give young adults a start in life when they reach 18. Each child will receive an initial endowment of £250. Children in families on low income will receive an additional endowment of £250. Children who are looked after by Health and Social Services Trusts on 6 April 2005 will receive the equivalent of this additional payment.
The Role of the Official Solicitor
A CTF account is managed by the Official Solicitor’s Office when there is no person with parental responsibility who can manage the CTF account until the child turns 16.
For most looked-after children, there will be a person with parental responsibility who can manage the account and be the “Registered Contact” until the child turns 16. For children where there is no individual (or no appropriate individual no-one appropriate) with parental responsibility, the accounts will be managed by the Official Solicitor for Northern Ireland.
The Official Solicitor (or Accountant of Court) will assume management of the accounts, either until someone with parental responsibility becomes available or until the child reaches the age of 16, at which time the child will take over management of their own account. The Official Solicitor will effectively step into the shoes of the parent. They will act in their best interests by considering which type of account to open and with which provider.
In the first instance the child’s account will be allocated to a provider by the HM Revenue and Customs (Child Trust Fund Office) on a rota basis. The Official Solicitor on receipt of the account will be registered as the Registered Contact. The Official Solicitor will then undertake an initial review of the account by reference to information provided by the local authority such as the religious or ethical beliefs of the child and also based on generic external advice from a financial advisor. This review will be repeated on a rolling basis.
Having taken control of the CTF account, the Official Solicitor will write to the child explaining that they have taken control of the account, what their role as registered contact will be and providing giving contact details. There will be contact with the child at least once a year at which time the Official Solicitor will send the child a statement. The Official Solicitor will also write to the child if they have decided to move the account to explain the reasons for her decision.
The Official Solicitor will contact the child 2 months before the child’s 16th birthday explaining that on turning 16, the role of the Official Solicitor ceases. The Official Solicitor will encourage the child to contact the provider to become the Registered Contact.
If someone comes forward who claims to have parental responsibility for the child, confirmation will be sought from the Health and Social Services Board and Trust together with satisfactory evidence of parental responsibility before the Official Solicitor relinquishes control of the account. On being satisfied, the Official Solicitor will issue a letter for this person to take to the CTF provider so they can become the Registered Contact.
In the case of a terminally ill child, the Official Solicitor as the Registered Contact will be required to authorise any withdrawals from the fund. The Official Solicitor will not engage in withdrawing money, but rather on receiving confirmation from the HM Revenue and Customs (Child Trust Fund Office) that money can be withdrawn, will authorise the CTF provider to make a payment to a named individual in the Health and Social Services Board and Trust.
Contact details for Official Solicitor’s Office and Child Trust Fund Office are set out below:
Official Solicitor’s Office
Royal Courts of Justice
Tel: 028 9072 5940
Fax: 028 9023 1759
Child Trust Fund Office
Tel: 0845 302 1470 (the helpline is open between the hours of 08:00 and 20:00)
From abroad: 00 44 1355 3590 02
Further information on Child Trust Funds and Local Authorities can be found at http://www.childtrustfund.gov.uk/
Information on Child Trust Fund legislation can be found at www.hmrc.gov.uk/ctf/legislation.htm.