Coronavirus: Government unlocks £150m in dormant assets for charities

The government has unlocked £150m in dormant assets for charities and social enterprises suffering as a result of coronavirus.

The announcement was made yesterday by the Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, who said the funds would be released from dormant bank and building society accounts and used to support organisations and vulnerable individuals in need as a result of the outbreak.

Last month, the government announced a package of £750m for charities, but many leaders warned it was 'a drop in the ocean' for a sector, which is expected to lose around £4.6bn in income over the full period of UK lockdown.

The newly pledged £150m includes accelerating the release of £71m in new funds from dormant accounts, alongside £79m already unlocked.

It aims to support urgent work to tackle youth unemployment, expand access to emergency loans for civil society organisations and help improve the availability of fair, affordable credit to people in vulnerable circumstances.

"Charities and social enterprises are playing a vital role in our national effort against coronavirus," Dowden said.

"This funding will support organisations that are at the heart of their communities, building on our unprecedented package of financial support for the voluntary sector.

"Through our proposals to further expand the dormant assets scheme, we want to unlock hundreds of millions more pounds for good causes, while keeping customer protection at the heart of the programme," he added.

Of the £150m, £10m will be brought forward for the Youth Futures Foundation to help organisations who support unemployed, disadvantaged young people across the country into jobs.

A further £45m will be deployed by Big Society Capital to allow better access to investment including emergency loans for charities and social enterprises.

Fair4All Finance will use £65m of the dormant assets to support affordable credit providers to increase access to fair and appropriate products for those struggling financially.

The remaining £30m will be distributed to Access - the foundation for social investment, which will support social enterprises in helping people in vulnerable circumstances.

Coronavirus Community Support Fund

The government also announced its Coronavirus Community Support fund, which forms part of the £750m package and will be distributed buy the National Lottery Community Fund, will open for applications on Friday 22 May.

It said £200m worth of grants will be available for organisations who are supporting people and communities experiencing disproportionate challenges and difficulty during the pandemic, and those that provide services and support for vulnerable people and have seen an increase in demand or have lost income.

Further funding will be 'committed and informed by emerging priorities, as the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable groups and charities is understood', it added.

it is understood that funding from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund will start to reach frontline organisations within a few weeks.

Applications to the fund will be handled through The National Lottery Community Fund, which is used to deliver around £500m of grants to local organisations each year. A joint panel set up by DCMS and NLCF will advise on distribution of funding.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, said: "This funding will provide vital support to some of the most vulnerable in our society, and comes on top of the unprecedented package we have put in place to help individuals, businesses and the economy through this difficult time.

“Thank you to the banks and building societies for taking part so we can continue to support so many good causes. I look forward to the potentially millions more we can unlock for good causes through expanding the Dormant Assets Scheme.”

Expansion of dormant assets scheme

The government said it is currently consulting on expanding the dormant assets scheme to include a range of financial assets from the insurance and pensions, investment and wealth management, and securities sectors.

It said the expansion has the potential to 'bring billions more pounds into the scheme', which will prioritise consumer protection.

Reuniting consumers with their money will be the main goal for the extended scheme and charities are only likely to benefit 'following repeating, unsuccessful efforts to locate the asset owner'.

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