Local Authorities' Frequently Asked Questions

What are the eligibility criteria for the Junior ISA?

To be eligible for a Junior ISA, a looked after child must:

  • Be under 18

  • Not have a Child Trust Fund (those born between 1 Sept 2002 and 2 Jan 2011 would generally have a Child Trust Fund)

  • Be resident in the UK

  • Have been continuously looked after for one year or longer after 3 January 2011 (they may have entered care before this date, but must have been in continuous care until 3 January 2012 to qualify)

Do we have to extract all the relevant children based on the above criteria?

Yes, however there may be some looked after children who were born between 1 September 2002 and 2 Jan 2011 who because they were not eligible for a CTF (i.e. UASC) are nevertheless eligible for a Junior ISA. If you have a child in this category then you will need to send us the data. 

How often do you need us to send an updated list of children? 

This will depend on the number you have in care and range from every three months (for those with few looked after children), to monthly for those authorities who have a considerable number of eligible children. It will also depend on the rates of turnover. We will discuss the exact frequency of making returns with each local authority.

What is the minimum information that TSF needs to open the account?

The absolute minimum data set that we require is

  • The name of the child

  • Your internal reference number

  • The date of birth

  • Whether the child is currently resident in the UK (note that to be eligible for a Junior ISA the child must be resident in the UK)

  • The date on which the child started to be looked after

You have not asked for any address information – what will be the registered address for the account?

The registered address for all JISA accounts will be that of The Share Foundation.

What money will be put in this account for the children by the Government?

The Government will contribute £200 for each child when their account is opened. At this stage no further direct government funds are scheduled.

Will the child’s account receive any other money?

The Share Foundation is raising funds for the scheme from trusts, companies and high net worth individuals and the general public.

How will this additional money be allocated between children?
The default allocation for donations is all children for whom accounts have been opened and who remain looked after.  However generally donors want to specify individual local authorities or groups of authorities or countries within the United Kingdom.

Can a Local Authority contribute to the accounts of its children?

Yes.  Contact The Share Foundation to set up the arrangements for doing this.

Can a Local Authority put other monies due to the child e.g. educational grants, criminal injuries compensation, legacies from deceased family members etc. into the account?

In theory, yes.  However there are a number of things to bear in mind:

  • The child cannot access the Junior ISA monies until age 18, so if they are likely to need a grant or other amount before then, it is recommended that this is put in another type of savings account.

  • There is an annual HMRC limit of £4,368 for putting monies in the Junior ISA . There is a possibility that putting a fixed amount such as a legacy into a child’s account could take them over the annual limit and prevent them getting the benefit of other donations in that year.

 If there is a specific case you wish to discuss call The Share Foundation for more information.

Can a Local Authority combine all the accounts currently existing for a child into the Junior ISA?

Again in theory yes. But the same practical considerations apply as in the cases described above.

Can family, friends and carers of the child contribute to the Junior ISA for just that child?

Yes. Anyone interested in doing this should contact The Share Foundation. 

Who decides where the money is invested?

The Share Foundation consult with appropriate investment firms who advise on the best mix of Junior ISA providers and types of Junior ISA for each age group of children.  

Can Local authorities determine how the funds are invested for their children?

We don’t advise this as it would transfer the risk from the asset allocation adviser to the authority. However if an Authority were to take proper paid financial advice it might be possible. 

We have some families who will only accept Sharia investment, can you accommodate this?

Yes. You should let us know if this option is required for any individual children.

What if the young people want to determine the type of investment they hold?

Until they are 16, they cannot do this, although we encourage them to think about it from a young age (see pathway planning, and optimal use of monies below). From 16 they are encouraged to control their own investments, althoughThe Share Foundation should remain the Recognised Contact for the account until they are 18 if they wish to continue to benefit from its additional contributions. A local authority can obtain on request a report of the young people between 16 and 18 who are controlling their own accounts.

How can we, or a carer or child, know what is in the account?

A report will be sent to Local Authorities quarterly showing the status of each child’s account. The report will include the amounts and source of any donations by type ( e.g government, LA, family, funds raised by The Share Foundation). Half yearly the Junior ISA providers will send individual statements for each child to The Share Foundation and these will be available to the authority on request. A carer or young person can also discuss the current status of an account or receive a copy the latest statement directly by contacting the Share Foundation. They will have to be authorised by the authority by inclusion in the regular data download, and to go through some identify validation checks before we can send the information to them directly though (see below Data Protection).

How can we access the performance of the account?

Statistics on the increase in value of accounts will be available as part of the regular quarterly reporting. This will include generic statistics for each authority. Facts and figures for the whole scheme are maintained on our website, www.sharefound.org .

Our investment advisers will also be periodically comparing the performance of each provider and fund type with those available on the market in order to ensure that the accounts are properly invested.

Who can access the funds in the Junior ISA, and how do they do this?

Only the young person can access the funds and they can only do so once they are 18,  although there are exceptions in the cases of death or terminal illness – see below. The young person will be given an information leaflet as they approach 18 advising them what they need to do in order to take control of their account. This includes the need for them to provide proof of identity. 

What happens if they don’t claim their account at 18?

The Junior ISA automatically converts to an adult ISA when the young person reaches 18. The ISA will remain with the ISA Provider until instructed otherwise. The Share Foundation will provide the authority with the identity of the ISA Provider, and the Provider with the identity of the authority, at age 18, when its formal role falls away. However we will use best endeavours to help link young adults with their accounts on a continuing basis as it is in no-one’s interest for the account to remain unclaimed.
No donations can be made to an account once it converts to an adult ISA. Only the young person themselves can contribute to the account from then on.

How will a local authority know whether an account is claimed or not?

Where it has the information, The Share Foundation will report quarterly the status, by young person, of all accounts for those over 18 showing those that are claimed, and those that remain unclaimed after 6 months, more than a year etc. The Share Foundation will review the status of these with the authority periodically.

What happens if the child leaves care before age 18?

If the child returns to their parents or family or is adopted, then the Junior ISA will be transferred to the management of the parent, who then becomes the Recognised Contact with the Junior ISA Provider. Note, however, that it can still only be accessed by the child when they reach 18.

What happens if the child goes overseas with a carer?

Unlike an adult ISA which cannot receive contributions from overseas because of a “being resident in the UK” rule, a Junior ISA can continue to receive donations made to the account when the child is living overseas. The account remains open and invested until they reach 18.

What happens in the unfortunate event of the child dying?

The money in the Junior ISA becomes part of their estate and will become the property of whoever is entitled to that estate. This will usually be the next of kin. After authorisation by the authority, the next of kin are asked to contact us to start the procedure for claiming the accounts. They will be asked to provide proof of identity and entitlement to the funds as well as a copy of the death certificate.

What happens where the child is dying of a terminal illness and it is known that they will not reach 18?

In this case, if the child has been assessed by medical experts as having less than 6 months left to live, the Junior ISA account can be accessed to provide funds to improve the child’s care in their last months. In such circumstances and after authorisation by the authority, an appropriate person should contact The Share Foundation to discuss the process for claiming the funds.  In all cases The Share Foundation will require a copy of the medical opinion.

Some young people do not have the capacity at 18 to manage the money sensibly in the Junior ISA. Is there some way that access can be prevented until later?

If the young person is deemed medically not to have the capacity at 18 to look after themselves, then the ISA will be treated in the same way as any other income and assets and be left under the care of a responsible person. However, if the young person is just deemed to be at risk of reckless behaviour, The Share Foundation is not in a position to stop them from taking control of their account. Part of the purpose of the project is to encourage young people to take charge of their own future financial security. We advise that, if a local authority has concerns about individual children, they can accompany The Share Foundation Junior ISA information sheets for those who are 18 with their own materials.

Is there anything we can give to carers or young people so they know what to do in all the above cases?

Yes. We have produced a series of information sheets, which are designed to cover all of the above situations and can be given to carers etc.

Can we co- brand these information sheets?

Yes. But don’t change any of the content without checking with us first.

Specific eligibility questions

What is the exact definition of continuously looked after for this purpose?

We recommend that you use the definition in the Children Act 1989.

Does the scheme apply to children who are in kinship placements?

The scheme applies to all looked after children as legally defined in the 1989 Children Act. If the child is looked after and placed in kinship care then they would be eligible for a JISA account. 

What about those who are about to be adopted (i.e. they have been placed), where the Final Adoption Order has not yet been made by the court?

Yes, these children should be included.

Some children who were looked after on 3 January 2012 will have been eligible for a Junior ISA but have subsequently left care.   How will these be dealt with?

A retrospective exercise continues to be done by The Share Foundation, as we appreciate that this involves more than local authorities supplying a list of current looked after children. This will give time to go through records for the period to identify any children that fit this profile. 
We’d like to receive this list separately and will let you know when we are ready to receive it. The children won’t miss out although they will only be likely to receive the £200 as they will have missed the opportunity for further donations by leaving care before the scheme was set up.

What happens about looked after children who have a Child Trust Fund?  Can these be transferred over into Junior ISAs?

The responsibility to manage Child Trust Funds for Looked After children passed to The Share Foundation on 1 October 2017. The Share Foundation can only manage Child Trust Funds where there is no-one in a position of parental responsibility for the child, or no-one suitable to manage the account. Once the LA confirms there is no-one suitable, The Share Foundation can take responsibility for the account, and may then process donations into the account.

Child Trusts Funds can be converted into Junior ISAs, but advice must be sought by the party responsible for the account as to whether this is the most appropriate course of action in the particular circumstances. Every case has to be considered individually, and on its merits.

Are children who are unaccompanied asylum seekers eligible?

Yes, they fall within the definition of being looked after for this purpose.

When will asylum seekers be able to claim their money, given that they don’t have proof of identity and confirmation of residency?

They are likely to need proof of identity to claim their account. However there may be documents provided by the Home Office that satisfy the requirements of the Junior ISA provider. Sometimes unaccompanied asylum seekers disappear on reaching 18, and therefore their accounts will remain unclaimed. If this happens, it is usually, though not always, because their legal status as UK residents is not confirmed.  A process will be put in place for dealing with these cases.   This decision however does not rest with The Share Foundation.

Pathway planning, and optimal use of money

Should the Junior ISA form part of the Pathway Planning process?

Yes, the Junior ISA should be discussed as part of the resources available to the young person and the best way to manage them. 

Is there any guidance provided by the scheme on the best way to manage the money? 

Yes. There is a financial education strand to the Junior ISA scheme which carers and young people can access, and which is available from our website, www.sharefound.org. The education strand is being managed by our partner organisation the Personal Finance Education Group.  There are materials and resources available from September 2012, aimed at young people and their carers for when they are 11, 16 and 18.  The educational materials covers day to day money management, budgeting and planning, debt and investment.

There is also a helpline (0300 6660 127 - calls cost no more than 01 or 02 UK-wide calls, and are included in inclusive mobile and landline minutes) that carers and young people can call to discuss financial capability issues. 

Should the money in the Junior ISA be taken into account when Local authorities are deciding how much to give as support to the young person when they reach 16 or 18? 

The Junior ISA should be completely discounted for this purpose when considering the resources available to a child at 16, as they have no access to the funds until 18. We also recommend that the money in the Junior ISA is ignored by local Authorities when making these judgements when the child reaches 18. 

Data Protection

What arrangements are being made to ensure we are in compliance with the Data Protection Act in giving you this data?

The Department for Education has prepared a Privacy Impact Assessment which addresses all such aspects, and which includes the process by which The Share Foundation validates all enquiries.

What happens if you are approached by someone purporting to be a carer or young person and wanting details of an account?

We have a series of identity validation checks in place to ensure that we only give information to those who are able to supply the relevant information on the child. Although generic information on the scheme will be available, in all cases which request specific personal information the identity, address and other contact details of the caller will have to be authorised by the Local Authority via its regular data download before releasing information to individual callers etc. Young people aged 15-17 may also authorise us directly via a freepost reply slip on this leaflet. In this case we will send a copy of the slip to the Local Authority for their records and to enable the young person's contact details to be kept up to date on future regular downloads.

Will the data be secure at The Share Foundation premises and on their systems? 

Significant security arrangements are in place, and are independently assessed to ensure that the data supplied is safeguarded and is only used for the stated purpose. Only staff of The Share Foundation who are DBS checked will have access to the data. The data is held on a secure network which is only available to staff physically located in The Share Foundation office.

Will the data be shared with anyone other than The Share Foundation?

The data set shared with the Junior ISA provider is limited to the Child’s full name, gender, date of birth, and National Insurance number (when available), as this is required to open the account, but they will not have access to any addresses or other information unless they receive a specific instruction from The Share Foundation. When a young person reaches 18 their ISA will require the normal data set, including address, in order to be accessible.

Will donors be able to see the performance of the individual account they have contributed to?

Unless the donor is authorised to have access via the regular data download from the authority,  the answer is ‘no’.  This means that no philanthropic donor will receive information as to the identity or performance of individual accounts.