‘Pivotal’ consultation launches over dormant asset scheme expansion

Charities are being asked for their views on government plans to double money available to good causes through the dormant asset scheme.

The government is also looking to overhaul the focus of the fund in England, which is currently spent on youth issues, financial inclusion, and social investment.

The scheme is currently used by dozens of banks and building societies to release funding to good causes through money left in dormant accounts. To date £892m has been released through the scheme.

It is set to be expanded to release a further £880m and include assets from insurance, pensions, investment and securities sectors.

Ahead of the move the government has launched a consultation on plans to expand money available in England through the scheme by a further £738m.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has confirmed it is considering changing the focus of the fund.

Consultation documents flag up the need to alight the scheme with government priorities, including its net zero environmental strategy and levelling up.

It also stresses the importance of the charity sector to the scheme “who have been and will continue to be crucial to its success”, says the government.

“Currently, dormant assets funding in England is required to be spent on three causes: youth, financial inclusion and social investment,” said the DCMS.

“As the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic continues, as well as cost of living pressures, the Government believes that now is the right time to review whether these remain the right causes for where funding from dormant assets can be allocated.”

Money spent through the scheme in England has included social investment funding through Big Society Capital and Access – the Foundation for Social Investment, including £150m to more than 300 organisations supporting young people at risk of unemployment in areas of disadvantage.

Access chief executive Seb Elsworth said the launch of the consultation is a “pivotal moment” and a “genuine opportunity to secure much-needed investment for places and communities that have been deprived of it in the past”.

“Tackling the cost-of-living crisis and delivering real change in places affected by economic decline requires urgent action,” he said.

“We must make the case that is it charities and social enterprises – with their extensive reach into underserved places – that can deliver tangible change by creating jobs and growth.

The 12-week consultation launched over the weekend and closes on October 9.

“This consultation will allow everyone’s voice to be heard so that the scheme can make a difference where it matters,” said charities minister Nigel Huddleston.

“With the cost-of-living crisis, it is more important than ever that we hear views from communities up and down the country on what causes we should support.

“I encourage everyone to participate in this unique opportunity to have your say on the future of dormant assets funding in England.”

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