The long delayed Dormant Account funding in Northern Ireland may soon be available to the voluntary sector, the Department of Finance has confirmed.
The Department, which says the establishment of a Dormant Account Fund is a “key priority,” has been conducting a consultation with key stakeholders in the charitable sector recently and they say that work is nearly complete.
“Work is nearing completion, within the framework provided by the Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Act 2008, to establish a scheme to use available monies for sustainable and maximum benefit for the community and voluntary sector within Northern Ireland,” the Department says.
At the recent consultations held with representatives of the voluntary sector it was also revealed that the sum available is considerably larger than the £7 million sum previously mentioned.
In 2016 the then Finance Minister Mervyn Storey said the funding would be used to improve access to finance for a range of organisations across the third sector, such as social enterprises, church and smaller community based groups. It is not yet clear if these will remain the priorities in the new plans.
At the time of the announcement in 2016 the Finance Minister said the Big Lottery Fund in collaboration with a third party would be delivering the ‘Community Finance Fund’ (Dormant Account Fund). It is understood that it is still the plan that the Big Lottery Fund will be distributing the funding.
The Dormant Accounts Scheme was first announced in 2008 in Northern Ireland. A few years ago fundraising consultant Neil Irwin 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 Department told Mr Irwin that four previous ministers had announced the Dormant Account scheme and there was no clarity about the timing of the release of the funding.
The difference in this most recent announcement is that the lead is being taken by the Department rather than local politicians who have not met in the Assembly since January 2017.
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