Charities urge action on £2bn dormant assets funds

05 Jan 2018 News

Charities have urged the government to take action on the up to £2bn of funding from dormant assets identified last year.

The government’s announced yesterday that £330m from dormant accounts, a separate pool, would be distributed to good causes over the next four years.

Most charity representative bodies welcomed this latest release of funds although some urged action on the larger £2bn pool of unclaimed assets identified by the Dormant Assets Commission in March 2017.

Tony Armstrong, chief executive of community member organisation Locality, said: “The announcement leaves important questions unanswered. The additional funding identified by the Dormant Assets Commission last March remains dormant.

“The government must not delay acting on this opportunity to tap into this money, and must engage in wider conversations about how this funding could be distributed.”

Sir John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said it was “vital that we ensure” the £2bn “is distributed strategically and effectively”.

He said: “We know ministers are looking hard at this issue.  They need to take the opportunity to release this once-in-a-lifetime windfall to support strategic initiatives and interventions that could transform the whole not-for-profit sector in the years ahead.”

The government has yet to open a public consultation it promised last March on how the £2bn will be distributed.

But Aidan Warner, external relations manager at NCVO, said it was right for the government to take its time.

He said: “We’re looking forward to seeing the consultation but the most important thing is taking the time needed to get it right, not rushing to get money out of the door as we saw with, for example, the Libor fine proceeds.”

NCVO has previously said the money should be used to endow community foundations and to allow charities to purchase community assets to help them become self-sustaining.

Sustainability

Other charity figures called for the money to be channelled more strategically.

Andrew O'Brien, director of policy and engagement at the Charity Finance Group, said: “The fact that the Office for Civil Society has been able to get hold of more money is welcome, but it should be more cautious about injecting funding into areas such as social investment which have already seen significant amounts of government money over previous years.

“Times have changed and it is critical that dormant assets keep pace.

“As we await to see what will happen with next £2bn of dormant assets, the government should begin consulting with the sector and across party lines to identify other areas which could benefit from investment. It is important that Brexit does not lead to government just recycling money into previous initiatives to avoid thinking about the bigger picture.”

Meanwhile, Acevo chief executive Vicky Browning said: “Acevo welcomes the investment of £330m into initiatives tackling important issues such as homelessness, disadvantaged young people and debt.

“However, we also want to emphasise the importance of funding that strengthens the sector as a whole, which focuses on building capacity, sustainability and good governance. We hope to see this more strategic approach to funding in the strategy for civil society.”

A spokeswoman for Navca similarly welcomed the £330m investment but said “an opportunity has been missed to invest in long term development of charities and infrastructure”.

She said: “Whilst there is acute need for more support for key frontline services, we feel that capacity building and investment in back office functions and skills are also critical as a means of enabling the survival of many charities.

“Additionally, with charities and the voluntary sector playing an increasing role in the delivery of health and social care, we also feel that there is opportunity to invest in charities, to change the public sector/voluntary sector commissioning playing field, so that real long lasting partnerships, that deliver long term eco-system wide changes are made.”

A spokeswoman for DCMS told Civil Society News yesterday that: “An announcement on the report will be made in due course.”

 

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