Behind the headlines

It may have been one of his more lacklustre budgets, but
chancellor Gordon Brown set out to build on his reputation as a
champion of children’s interests. His “baby bonds”, also mooted by
the Institute for Public Policy Research as a way to give children
and young people a better start in life, were given a mixed
reception. These child trust funds will apply to all children born
since last September and will comprise an initial endowment of at
least £250, rising to £500 for the poorest one-third of
children. There will be two further instalments before the child
reaches adulthood and parents and grandparents will also be able to
contribute. Brown said: “At age 18, on the basis of historic rates
of return, the child trust fund will accumulate assets that will
enable all young people to have more of the choices that were once
available only to some.” Children’s charities largely welcomed the
new trust funds, but some said the money was needed now rather than
later and that it might have been better spent in other ways if the
government’s target reductions in child poverty were to be

Julia Ross, executive director for health and social
care, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham
“The child trust fund is an interesting idea and may well
be one of these slightly idiosyncratic government initiatives that
are immensely popular and make a huge difference to children’s
lives. If it’s not used or useful then it will not work, but I like
the idea. I also strongly applaud the other announcements for
foster carers, the rise in benefits for the most frail, and
especially the abolition of the charges for meals and accommodation
for older people in hospital.”

Karen Squillino, senior practitioner, Barnardo’s
“Investing in our children’s future is crucial. The
development of the trust funds is a forward-thinking, progressive
and welcome piece of social policy. The universality element is
pleasing to see as recent years have seen the erosion of universal
benefits. I am also encouraged that the poorest children in society
have been acknowledged and they will receive an increased amount.
The trust is one way of attempting to support children and I feel
that it should be supported fully. But this does not negate the
need of the government to maintain child poverty high on the

Phil Frampton, national chairperson, Care Leavers
“The child trust fund is to be welcomed but what we want
to see is how much extra the ‘corporate parents’ in local
authorities and national government will put into the fund for
young people who are in care. If the corporate parents consider the
fund good for the children of the future, young people leaving care
now should get an equivalent amount extra so that they can leave
care with more than a black bin-bag full of their

Felicity Collier, chief executive, Baaf Adoption and
“This initiative will be welcomed by many families,
particularly poorer ones. Whether they can top up the fund or not,
the figure will not seem insignificant. I find the assumption by
many that it simply fails to recognise what a struggle life can be
for these families. We will need clarification about the
portability of the fund for those children who become looked after
and, in particular, adopted. Could birth family members contribute
to the fund after adoption? Now, that would be progress.”

Bill Badham, development officer, National Youth
“We are the fourth richest country in the world, yet 33
per cent of our children live in poverty. When the children of the
Wirral were asked how the Children’s Fund could best help them,
their priority was ‘give the families more money so they can offer
to look after us better’. They well know the link between poverty
and poor health, education and jobs. Their solution was adequate
provision now, not a nest egg for the future.”

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