Government to release £150m of dormant assets to support sector

The government has announced that it will make £150m available from dormant assets to support charities and social enterprises through the coronavirus pandemic. 

Speaking at the government’s daily Covid-19 press conference today, Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, said the funding, which will be mostly loan finance, would support work to tackle youth unemployment and provide emergency support to civil society organisations. 

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said the £150m was made up of £71m of new funds from dormant accounts and £79m that had already been unlocked and would be “repurposed to help charities’ coronavirus response and recovery”. 

Of the £150m, the DCMS said £45m would go to Big Society Capital to provide emergency loans for charities, social enterprises and some small businesses facing cash-flow problems and disruption to their trading because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Access – The Foundation for Social Investment will receive £30m to support social enterprises helping people in vulnerable circumstances through a mix of emergency support via social lenders and recovery finance. 

The Youth Futures Foundation will be given £10m to help organisations that support unemployed, disadvantaged young people into jobs. 

And Fair4All Finance will receive £65m to support affordable credit providers to increase access to those who are struggling financially.

Dowden said: “Charities and social enterprises are playing a vital role in our national effort against coronavirus.

“This funding will support organisations that are at the heart of their communities, building on our unprecedented package of financial support for the voluntary sector.

“Through our proposals to further expand the dormant assets scheme, we want to unlock hundreds of millions more pounds for good causes, while keeping customer protection at the heart of the programme.”

Seb Elsworth, chief executive of Access, said the funds cemented the role of blended finance in the social investment landscape and would help more organisations use investment in the short term. 

“Crucially, looking ahead the sector will need a broader range of investment opportunities to help trade its way into the recovery,” he said. 

“This boost of dormant account money will help to make that happen and responds to the need that the sector has clearly articulated.”

Peter Holbrook chief executive of the umbrella body Social Enterprise UK, said:  “Our members have told us that, with the right blend, finance can play a role in getting them through this crisis and beyond. 

“That is why we worked with our partners in the sector to raise this issue with government, and it is good to see the Secretary of State responding with this additional investment.”

“Social enterprises are mobilising communities right now to keep our country going through this crisis and want to play a big role in the national recovery. 

“The more tools that government can give us now, the faster and better we can get our country back up and running.”

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