Savings Accounts and Health in Pregnancy Grant Bill

Part of Parliament (Amendment) – in the House of Commons at 7:01 pm on 26th October 2010.

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Photo of Richard Graham Richard Graham Conservative, Gloucester 7:01 pm, 26th October 2010

Before coming here I read a document from the Save Child Savings alliance, which hon. Members might have had a chance to look at. I thought it would be helpful to run through some of its points about why it is so important to maintain and retain child trust funds, and answer them one by one. Its first major point is that child trust funds are all about fostering a long-term savings culture. I am sure that everyone in the House, from whatever party, will agree that that is a major national goal. However, the point about a long-term savings culture is that every form of fund or saving, including pensions, is exactly that-savings. So we cannot look at CTFs in isolation. The SCS alliance's second major point is that keeping CTFs will help to protect the savings culture in the UK. To that, we could add the CTFs' original goal of spreading financial literacy.

The question at stake this evening, therefore, concerns two main points: first, how effective have CTFs been in delivering either their original goals or the aims suggested by the SCS alliance? Secondly, what choices and other alternatives are available to provide the best for our nation's children? The results so far show that CTFs have, over their lifetime of just over five years, accumulated £2 billion of assets, which is a reasonable absolute figure on its own. However, £1.4 billion of that was provided by the Government, and only £600 million by the families and friends of those participating. As mentioned by my hon. Friend Paul Maynard, the take-up amounts to 70%, with 24% of open accounts having received no contribution from participating families or friends.

Many better forms of savings are available in the marketplace for achieving the same ends. In particular, I highlight the existing individual savings accounts, which came from the original personal equity plans of the 1980s. These provide significantly more investment options, have, by and large-although not altogether-delivered better performance and have much lower costs. They can be designated to children, which is important, and cost the taxpayer nothing.