At the committee's most recent hearing of its inquiry into unclaimed assets, Michael Fallon, Tory MP for Sevenoaks, attacked the Treasury's proposal to channel dormant money into the Big Lottery Fund for use on services for young people.
"In effect, you are spending unclaimed assets on youth services that would otherwise have been funded out of the BLF, which you have raided to pay for the Olympics," Fallon told Ed Balls, who was then economic secretary to the Treasury. "In essence, you are robbing people's bank accounts to pay for Olympic mismanagement."
Balls, who last week took the newly created cabinet post of Secretary for Schools and Children, said: "There is no substance to that accusation."
Balls also cast further doubt on the future of a social investment bank to finance the third sector. It might not be the best way to funnel money to the sector, he told committee members. "I can see a lot of merit in a social investment bank but I do not think that we can presume that an institution that, at this stage, doesn't even exist would be the right and best way to funnel money to the third sector given that there will be other alternatives which already exist," he said.
He added that there had never been any presumption that dormant money would be spent on the bank, which was the brainchild of Sir Ronald Cohen, chair of the Commission on Unclaimed Assets.
When Fallon responded by joking: "we will get the bad news to Sir Ronald Cohen", Balls replied: "I have spoken many times to Sir Ronald Cohen on this very matter, and I do not think he and I have any difference of understanding of this position."
- Charities have welcomed the appointment of Ed Balls as Secretary of State for Children and Families. "We expect him to show the same determination in moving children's issues up the political agenda as he has shown in his work for disabled children," said Francine Bates, chief executive of Contact a Family. Marion Lowe, chief executive of The Family Fund, said: "We hope he will get more direct funding to disabled children's families."