Another £100m raised from dormant accounts from good causes 

11 May 2018 News

More than £100m was raised from dormant accounts in 2017 to spend on good causes, according to the recent accounts of the Reclaim Fund.

The Reclaim Fund's annual report and accounts for 2017 shows that as of the start of January, almost £700m was potentially available to be given away to good causes.

The Reclaim Fund collects money from bank accounts which have seen no activity for more than 15 years. It holds some of that money in case the owners of those accounts seek the return of the money, and passes on the rest to the Big Lottery Fund, which in turn distributes it to good causes.

The government originally estimated that around £500m would be available from dormant accounts, but in the first seven years of operation it has already raised almost £1.1bn and repaid only around £65m to account holders.

This year it received a total of £121.9m, and repaid £15.7m, making another £106.2m available to spend on good causes, compared to £112m in the previous year.

It did not make any distributions to the Big Lottery, but has committed to transfer £152.8m.

The first £425m of dormant assets money for England has gone to Big Society Capital, and government has announced it plans to spend another £155m of the money on financial inclusion and youth services. But there is no information about how any more money will be allocated in the future.

What next for £2bn of dormant assets?

The amount of money made available suggests that there could be very significant sums available from other dormant assets – chiefly shares, insurance and pension pots – which are also dormant, and which government has also committed to make available to good causes. 

Those estimating the amount available from these sources used a similar conservative methodology to the one used to estimate dormant bank accounts, and suggested that up to £2bn could be available.

A consultation on what should happen to these assets is due from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, but this has been delayed for some time.

If dormant assets follow the same pattern as dormant accounts, the two combined could eventually be worth around £400m a year. Sir Stuart Etherington has called for this money to be channelled into a permanent endowment for community foundations, to give grants at a local level.

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