Cabinet Office plans £1bn dormant assets fund

Money raised from the sale of stocks and shares would potentially be directed to good causes

Cabinet Office
Cabinet Office

Charities could be in line to receive hundreds of millions of pounds from a scheme being launched by the Cabinet Office to unlock dormant assets such as stocks and shares and direct the money towards good causes.

The Cabinet Office announced today that it had set up the Dormant Assets Commission, which will be tasked with unlocking UK assets which have been untouched for more than 15 years. 

Over the next year, the independent commission will identify new pools of such assets, which it says could include stocks, shares, pensions and bonds. The government estimates they could be worth more than £1bn. 

The commission will be chaired by Nick O’Donohoe, the outgoing chief executive of Big Society Capital.

The government hopes the new scheme will build on the dormant accounts scheme, which launched in 2008 and has raised £750m in cash from dormant accounts held with major banks and building societies. 

A statement from the Cabinet Office said that the new commission would be tasked with putting "rocket boosters" under the existing scheme and unlocking many hundreds of millions of pounds of dormant assets to "revolutionise" how the voluntary and charity sectors are funded.

Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society, said in a statement: "More than a billion pounds of assets, that might otherwise sit gathering dust, will go into funding for charities that make a real difference to people’s lives across the country.

"To build an even more caring and compassionate country we need to transform dormant resources and give the funds to those who need it. I have no doubt that Nick is going to present a cast-iron plan to help charities in the years ahead."

Sir Stephen Bubb, the chief executive of the charity leaders’ network Acevo, described the potential new fund as promising news for charities "after a year of hard shocks and tough knocks".

He said in a statement: "To make the most of this opportunity, we need to act as well as talk. We've been encouraged by the way that government has used dormant assets to help build the social investment market but there is more that needs to be done.

"This commission should focus on, and invest in, revolutionising governance and leadership. We know from the Kids Company debacle that good governance and strong leadership are needed to deliver for the front line."

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