“The policy for the New Opportunities Fund which will enable the utilisation of the Dormant Accounts funds is currently being developed,” a Department statement explained.
It went on: “The release and use of these funds is a decision for the Northern Ireland Executive.”
Talks will begin soon to re-establish an Executive in Northern Ireland. But there is little optimism that an agreement will be reached quickly.
Dormant bank account initiative
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said £10m was already available and a further £9.2m was earmarked for the next two years.
In response to a Freedom of Information request from fundraising adviser Neil Irwin, the Department of Finance said: “The intention to develop a scheme for the use of dormant account funds in Northern Ireland has been announced on four separate occasions by the following ministers: Sammy Wilson, Simon Hamilton, Mervyn Storey and Máirtín Ó Muilleoir.”
Mr Irwin told the BBC that it was “disgraceful” that the money was not being available to charities working in the education, health, disability and arts sectors. The urgency with which some charities need such funding could not be overstated.
He said: “It is money the sector needs, organisations are having to close because of lack of funds.”
The government is considering whether to extend the scheme to other classes of unclaimed financial assets, including shares, pensions, insurance policies and other investments which could bring the sum available in the UK to around £2 billion.
Photo: Stormont by Diego Sideburns on Flickr.com
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