Northern Ireland to set up £16m Dormant Account Fund

The Department of Finance says it will take money from bank and building society accounts that have been dormant for 15 years or more to invest in the sector

The Northern Irish government has set up a Dormant Account Fund worth £16m to back the charity sector.

The announcement by the Department of Finance said the fund would take money from bank and building society accounts that have lain dormant for 15 years or more and invest it in a community fund for charities in the region.

The Dormant Account Fund will be administered by the National Lottery Community Fund on behalf of the Northern Irish government.

A strategic action plan for the scheme will now be developed by the NLCF after engagement with the charity sector in Northern Ireland.

The Dormant Account Fund would be open this financial year, the department said.

There have been calls for a similar dormant assets fund to be established in the UK to spend the more than £2bn worth of assets identified by the Dormant Assets Commission, which reported in 2017.

Four industry champions have been appointed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to expand the scheme to include pensions, insurance, securities and wealth-management assets.

More than £1bn has already been found in dormant bank and building society accounts in the UK since 2008, with more than £360m directed to good causes through Big Society Capital.

Sue Gray, permanent secretary at the Department of Finance, said of the Northern Ireland fund: "A key principle of this £16m Dormant Account Fund is that it will be used to fund services that would not normally attract public money, providing a real opportunity for a range of organisations to access funding, including community and voluntary groups, and social enterprises.

"I would really encourage the sector to bring forward their ideas to help shape the plans for this fund."

Kate Beggs, Northern Ireland director for the NLCF, said: "We want to ensure this money has the greatest impact possible.

"Over the coming months, we will be engaging widely with the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in order to design the programme and draw up the required strategic action plan for delivery."

Seamus McAleavey, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action, said the umbrella body was looking forward to being involved in the NLCF’s consultation.

"It is great to see this significant extra injection of cash, which will help community and voluntary organisations in Northern Ireland that are particularly looking at their own sustainability," he said.

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