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Dormant Accounts funding still elusive in Northern Ireland

Howard Lake | 12 July 2017 | News

No money has yet been allocated by the Dormant Accounts Scheme first announced in 2008 in Northern Ireland, according to recent Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.
Over the past few months Neil Irwin, fundraising consultant and chair of the Institute of Fundraising, has asked a series of questions of the Department of Finance, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI), to try and find out when these finances will be unlocked.
The Northern Ireland government and specifically the Department of Finance holds the Dormant Accounts money and it is understood that the Big Lottery Fund locally will be distributing the money.  So far none of the over £7.3 million available has been released, despite four different finance ministers announcing its availability.
In response to Mr Irwin’s FOI questions the Department of Finance said:
How much money is currently available for distribution in Northern Ireland from dormant accounts?
There is currently £7.3m available for distribution in Northern Ireland from Dormant Accounts.
How much money has been spent in Northern Ireland from dormant accounts under The Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Act 2008?
To date here has been no money spent from the Northern Ireland Dormant Accounts allocation.
What is the current policy for distribution of dormant accounts in Northern Ireland?
The Policy for the New Opportunities Fund which will enable the utilisation of the Dormant Accounts funds is currently being developed.
How many times and by which ministers has dormant accounts funding been announced since 2007?
The intention to develop a scheme for the use of Dormant Account funds in Northern Ireland has been announced on 4 separate occasions by the following Ministers: Sammy Wilson, Simon Hamilton, Mervyn Storey and Máirtín Ó Muilleoir.
May I have a copy of the consultation response to the public consultation that closed on 29 October 2009?
A response to the “Dormant Account Scheme Consultation on Spending Priorities for Northern Ireland” which closed 29 October 2009 was not published as the outcome was inconclusive.
Mr Irwin said he suspects that no money has been allocated because politicians can’t agree on how the money is spent.
“There must be disagreement on its allocation. The report on its consultation was never published, so they must not have been able to agree,” he said.
 
Photo: Dormant accounts – sleepy piggy-bank by Chris Brignell on Shutterstock.com
 

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