A charitable fund set up in 1927 with the aim of paying off the national debt is in negotiations with the Charity Commission to change its objects and become a grant-giving trust.
The National Fund, which has assets worth £319m and is Britain’s 29th-richest charity, was set up with a £500,000 investment from an anonymous philanthropist. It planned to grow the funds in the stock market until it became large enough to pay off the national debt.
It has carried out little or no charitable activity since, and its only recent payments have been governance costs and investment management fees, which totalled £350,000 last year.
Barclays Fiduciary Services took over its management in 2009, when it bought the former corporate trustee Northern Trust Fiduciary Services.
The fund is seen as unlikely to succeed in its objects of paying off the whole or a large part of the national debt, which, as of today, stands at about £984bn.
"We’ve been working ever since we became the trustee to change the original objects, which say the funds can be used only to pay off the national debt," said a spokesman for Barclays. "We’re working with the Charity Commission to look at how to turn it into a grant-making trust."
A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said in a statement: "We are currently in contact with the representatives of the trustee of the National Fund, who are considering how best to run the charity given the modern context in which it now operates."