The UK Child Trust Fund (CTF), which came into effect in January 2005, appears to be an exemplary instance of ‘asset-based welfare’, of the redistribution of wealth rather than simply income. However, this article shows that over the course of its development, and in its final implementation, CTF policy became ever more focused on generating a ‘savings culture’ and enhancing financial literacy. In explaining this outcome, it is argued that it may be characteristic of New Labour for which, it is further argued, welfare policy should seek to push individual aspirations and outlooks in certain directions. The article takes an interpretive approach to the study of policy and politics, arguing that we should look carefully at the processes of argument and selection by which ‘objects’ of policy are specified. This can help us characterize the approach of varying administrations, their ‘governmentality’.