Coalition calls for dormant assets to boost the social investment market

A coalition of social enterprise leaders has called on the government to boost the social investment market through the Dormant Assets Scheme.

The scheme, which releases funds from bank and building society accounts where no transactions have been carried out for the past 15 years, was this year expanded to include unclaimed insurance and pensions.

Ministers expect the expanded scheme to raise £880m for good causes.

The coalition of nine organisations, which includes Social Enterprise UK, UnLtd and the Access Foundation, has published a series of recommendations, including more combined loans and grants for charities and social enterprises, “start-up funding” for a £50m investment fund tailored to black and ethnic minority social entrepreneurs, and the creation of a network of small funders to provide finance to community groups.

The Community Enterprise Growth Plan is an early response to the government’s consultation on the future of the Dormant Assets Scheme, which is scheduled to formally open later this summer.

The proposted plan would mean the government “increased access to capital, dedicated funding to encourage the growth of trading activity, and tailored business support”, according to a statement from the organisations involved. 

The group said its plan would combine the dormant assets funds with other private and charitable funds, potentially doubling the total amount available.

The recommendations would cost about £500m from the dormant assets fund.

Social investment leaders said the recommendations could help the government address the cost-of-living crisis and achieve some of the aims of its levelling-up agenda.

Mark Norbury, chief executive of UnLtd, said: “Bringing £880m of unused financial products out of limbo creates a real opportunity for the government and for the UK. 

“As we face a cost-of-living crisis and emerge out of a global pandemic, it is urgent that this wealth is used in a way that creates sustainable change for our communities.”

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, said: “This consultation marks a once-in-a-decade opportunity to decide how we use hundreds of millions of pounds to help communities. We must use this precious resource wisely. 

“Ultimately, we know that trading is the only route to lasting transformational change. The Community Enterprise Growth Plan is a smart way to deploy limited funds to support social enterprises in places that need them.”

The organisations backing the Community Enterprise Growth Plan are: Access – the Foundation for Social Investment, Big Society Capital, Impact Investing Institute, Navca, Power to Change, School for Social Entrepreneurs, Social Enterprise UK, Social Investment Business and UnLtd.

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