It makes auntie’s old bones tickle to see someone sucked in by such an obvious bribe. For the confused, the CTF is a savings and investment account started up with a government cash gift for all UK-resident children born after 1 September 2002.
First, let’s be clear: you must put the money into one of three CTF accounts. Investing in a savings account is the safe bet, but won’t yield much: according to fund management group F&C, if the CTF had been invented 18 years ago, that initial £250 would be worth a measly £652 today. You could also invest in shares (chosen for you by a government-approved financial adviser). F&C says £250 invested in the UK’s largest companies 18 years ago would be worth £1,427 today. Or you can choose a stakeholder account: the money is invested in shares until the child is 13, at which point some of it is moved to safer investments to guarantee summink remains by the time the kid’s 18.
The Co-operative Insurance Society has teamed up with the Children’s Mutual to offer the only ethical CTF at the mo. But while it excludes tobacco, weapons and nuclear companies, ethical giants like BP and GlaxoSmithKline still get your loot.
The government hopes you will add to the fund yourself, and stick everything on the stock market. Parents are allowed to invest up to £100 extra a month. That could net £45,000 by your daughter’s 18th birthday. But think about this: by the time today’s tots have graduated they are expected to be in debt by an average of £43,825. Surely that’s just a coincidence.
Dear Auntie _ War, famine, economic depression and global warming - the idea that 'another world is possible' seems remoter than ever. Will we ever have a just and peaceful world? _ Desperate for peace, Preston
Dear Auntie _ At one of the Gaza protests in London, Stop the War put the number of protesters at around 100,000 but the police insisted it was only 20,000. Can Auntie reassure me that the Met has a scientific methodology for estimating crowd numbers? _ Numberless in London
Dear Auntie, All my left-wing friends seem to be overjoyed about Obama winning the US election, holding real hope that he will bring change, that he'll stop the wars, and that he'll somehow make America all cuddly and nice. But haven't we been here before? I'm getting flashbacks to the expectations people had of politicians like Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, and how quickly they betrayed us. Is it terrible that I think Obama will be just more of the same? Hopeless, London
Dear Auntie, Having reached 50, I've become invisible. It's the only explanation of why people look right through me. I'm ignored in shops and at bus stops; and getting served at the bar is an endurance test, as men and younger women always take priority. I have a lifetime of experience as an activist, but these days there's always a 'Darren' or 'Ryan' whose opinion matters more. I'd go as far as saying they don't even hear me speak! It seems white hair and wrinkles are taken as an early indication of Alzheimer's. But I'm not ready to go gently into the night and as Auntie looks of a similar age, does she have any advice? The invisible woman, London
Dear Auntie, _ My daughter is starting to ask awkward questions such as 'Mum, did you take drugs when you were young?' I don't want to lie but I don't want her to venture down the same route. What do I tell her? _ Amy in London
Dear Auntie, _ I'm a vegetarian who is fed up having to justify why I don't eat anything with a face on it. And it's the environmentalists who are also meat eaters who seem the most personally affronted by my choices. Do you have any suggestions how I can deal with this? _ Chickpea not chicken lover, Totnes