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Government to unlock £330m from dormant accounts to tackle societal challenges

Government to unlock £330m from dormant accounts to tackle societal challenges

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has announced that up to £330 million will be released from dormant bank and building society accounts over the next four years.

The funds will be directed towards helping the homeless, disadvantaged young people, local charities and other good causes in the UK, and according to DCMS, will see the total distribution from to good causes reach over half a billion pounds by 2020.

Where the money will go

Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital will distribute this latest allocation of funds.

Around £280 million will be allocated to initiatives across England to help disadvantaged young people into work, provide housing for families and vulnerable people, and tackle problem debt.

Of this, up to £135 million will be used by Big Society Capital to fund stable and long-term accommodation for vulnerable groups such as homeless people and those suffering with mental health issues, as well as to provide support for local charities and social enterprises. This allocation meets existing funding commitments to Big Society Capital, who will use it to leverage substantial private co-investment, to maximise the impact of these funds.

Around £90 million will be invested to projects that help disadvantaged young people into employment. These initiatives will be jointly designed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Education and  with input from young people.

The remaining £55 million is set to be awarded to financial inclusion and capability initiatives which will tackle issues such as problem debt, as well as improving access to financial products and services for those on lower incomes.

Out of the £330 million, up to £50 million will be made available for good causes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and will be distributed by the Big Lottery Fund. Each devolved administration will then decide how these funds are used.

The funding for social investment in England will also include £25m for Big Society Capital and £10 million for Access – the Foundation for Social Investment, its sister organisation. This is on top of the last £100 million to complete the £400m originally committed by Government back in 2012. Big Society Capital has outlined how it will use the money in a blog on its site, and states that the new funds will enable it to deliver larger and more innovative solutions in two key areas of the strategy it announced last July: supporting communities to improve lives, and providing homes for people in need.

Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, said:

“By unlocking millions of pounds from dormant accounts for a range of good causes, we can make a real difference to lives and communities across the country.

“This is part of the Government’s commitment to building a fairer society and tackling the social injustices that hold people back from achieving their full potential.

“I am grateful to the banks and building societies, as well as Reclaim Fund Ltd, for their work to free up these funds for good causes. Working in close partnership with the financial sector and civil society, we are determined to help create a country that works for everyone and build a Britain fit for the future.”

Commenting on the announcement, Sir John Low, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation welcomed the announcement but drew attention to the Dormant Assets Commission report that suggested that up to £2bn could be made available to good causes.

He  said:

“It is good to see the Government pressing ahead with the latest release of funds from dormant accounts and the focus on homelessness and housing is understandable given the acute nature of the problems in those areas currently.

“However, we should also remember that the Dormant Assets Commission has held out the prospect of a much bigger prize with up to £2 billion being held in dormant financial assets that could be harnessed to fund good causes and it is vital that we ensure this new money is distributed strategically and effectively.

“We know Ministers are looking hard at this issue. They need to take the opportunity to release this once-in-a-lifetime windfall to support strategic initiatives and interventions that could transform the whole not-for-profit sector in the years ahead.”

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via www.thepurplepim.com.

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