Nicva pushes for devolution of unclaimed assets decisions

The Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action has called for the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly to be allowed to decide which good causes should benefit from the estimated £14m-£17m worth of unclaimed assets held in the province.

In a response to the UK Treasury’s consultation on the distribution of dormant funds, which was published in May, Nicva said that there should be further debate on the spending priorities.

“We think the devolved administration should have responsibility for deciding what the key priorities are,” said Seamus McAleavey, chief executive of Nicva. “There should be three or four main areas that benefit from these funds, some of which might be the same as those identified by the Treasury, but we should have the choice.”

So far, the Government has outlined youth services as the primary recipient of assets money, followed by financial inclusion and a possible social investment facility to finance the third sector.

Nicva also said it would be “daft” for the Government to expect banks and building societies to hand over the dormant funds voluntarily, as proposed in the Treasury document, and suggested that the scheme should be made compulsory.

McAleavey added that the experience of the Irish Republic, which has already implemented a scheme to retrieve assets from bank and building society accounts, has shown that there are significant sums lying dormant. “The figure of £500m in UK bank accounts could be a conservative estimate,” he said.

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