Wales politics

Child Trust Fund top-ups to end in Wales

Image caption The assembly government is to stop Child Trust Fund top-ups.

The assembly government will not fund Child Trust Fund top-ups payments of up to £100 from next April.

Instead more than £3m will be allocated to support disabled and looked after children.

Earlier this year the UK Government announced it would scrap the Child Trust Fund.

The fund gave every child £250 to invest and be spent when the child turned eighteen years old.

To complement that payment the Assembly Government funded top-ups of £50 for every child, and another £50 for the poorest children.

But from April the top-up will be scrapped and replaced with a £500 payment to all "looked after" children in Wales.

Deputy Children's Minister Huw Lewis said the assembly government had worked hard to find a way of continuing with the top-up but it had become clear it was not feasible.

He said: "This is very disappointing but we have found new ways to achieve some of the benefits of the Child Trust Fund.

"To achieve this we will invest more than £3m in supporting disabled and looked after children."

Mr Lewis said a one-off £500 'transition to adulthood' grant would be given to all "looked after" children between 16 and 18 as they leave care.

He said: "The use of the grant would be agreed in conjunction with the individual's Personal Adviser who would help them spend or invest the grant in the most appropriate way."

A Barnardo's Cymru spokesperson said care leavers often make the transition to independent living at a much earlier age than their peers and that this grant would help them cope with the demands made on them as they attempt to progress into adulthood.

The spokesperson said: "Our leaving care services work to support young people who are often experiencing severe financial hardship.

Benefit

"This affects their ability to sustain a tenancy, to heat their home, to meet the costs of participating in education and training and stay healthy.

"Every winter we support more and more young people who need help with fuel poverty and have to make the decision about whether to eat or heat."

Mr Lewis said children with disabilities and their families would also be prioritised, with extra funding through the Families First initiative.

Zoe Richards of Learning Disability Wales and the Disabled Children Matter Wales Campaign said details of the extra funding were not yet known to those organisations.

But she warned of the need to make sure the funds actually reached the children it is intended to benefit.

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