A MUM has told how she discovered her son had thousands of pounds squirrelled away in a little-known savings account.
Sharon Maloney, 45, recently realised her son Jonah, 15, had £11,000 saved up in a lost Child Trust Fund account.
Like many, the 15-year-old was once one of over six million children to have held a child trust fund (CTF).
The problem was, Sharon had lost track of the account over time after they moved to Hong Kong.
This meant that Jonah had £11,000 worth of free cash sitting in an account untapped for when he turns 18.
Child trust funds were long-term tax-free savings accounts for children born between September 1, 2002, and January 2, 2011.
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The government gave eligible parents vouchers worth up to £500 to invest in these accounts which would grow in value before maturity when the account holder turned 18.
It was only when Sharon came across a website called Gretel that she was able to track her son’s money down.
Sharon told The Mirror: “This summer I returned to the UK for a visit, and I was talking to a friend about planning for our future, when I remembered I had a Child Trust Fund for my son.
"As I’m no longer together with his father, we had to rack our brains to try and find the paperwork for the bank.
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“Gretel were able to track down the new company that had taken it over, and passed on the details to me, including contact information that put me directly in touch. I was then able to set up new security protocols – all within an hour. It was a marvellous relief.”
Jonah will be able to access the cash when he turns 18.
Sharon said: “We definitely did not expect that much money to be in the account so you can imagine how happy my son and I were. I know at least for the short term future, he has a nest egg to start him off when he becomes an adult.”
Right now, over 145,000 child trust funds sit unclaimed, according to National Audit Office (NAO).
And figures released by the government back in October 2022 suggest that these teenagers could have an average of £2,100 in their CTF waiting to be claimed.
Duncan Stevens, chief executive of Gretel said: "Our ultimate ambition is to help solve the longstanding issue of dormant assets in financial services.
"While it may just be the tip of the iceberg when you consider the entire financial services landscape, there is still a staggering £2.2billion sat unclaimed in CTFs in the UK.
"For many children, CTFs were set up at birth and long forgotten during the 18 years until they matured.
"When you add the potential for house moves and other life changes in, it’s easy for people to lose touch with them.
"We want to get the money from "lost" CTFs back to the younger generation where it could make a huge difference to their lives."
But, it is important to understand that households don't have to sign up to Gretel to locate a lost CTF.
Parents can contact the HMRC directly and ask them to trace lost accounts – we've explained everything you need to know below.
How can you claim child trust funds?
A CTF matures on the account holder's 18th birthday.
At this point, the child automatically takes over the account and no more money can be added.
Until your child withdraws or transfers the money, it stays in an account that no one else has access to.
If you are one of the tens of thousands of young adults who haven't claimed their account, the government has an online tracing service where you can find out if you have one and which provider it's with.
To find out more, you'll need a government gateway login and National Insurance number.
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If you are a parent looking to find out about your child's fund you can either access it online, or you'll need to send a letter to HMRC with the following details:
- Full name and address
- Child’s full name and address
- Child’s date of birth
- Child’s National Insurance number or Unique Reference Number if known
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