Government launches consultation on next tranche of dormant assets funding

16 Jul 2022 News

The government is seeking views on how it can distribute nearly £900m from dormant accounts that are open but inactive. 

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) today launched a 12-week public consultation to determine how the next tranche of dormant assets, worth £880m, should be spent. 

The Community Wealth Fund Alliance, a coalition of nearly 600 organisations from across the civil society, public and private sectors, welcomed the move. The alliance previously campaigned for a community wealth fund (CWF) to be considered as an option for the English portion, which is included in the consultation.

Since 2011, £892m has been released across the UK through the Dormant Asset Scheme. The Dormant Assets Act 2022, which received Royal Assent in March, will expand the scheme to cover more types of assets.

The consultation stresses that the new tranche of money “will not immediately become available and is expected to take several years to be released through to The National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF)”.

Reviewing the scheme in light of ongoing challenges 

Writing in the introduction to the consultation, culture secretary Nadine Dorries said that “now is the right time to look at how the scheme can deliver the greatest impact” in light of “the unprecedented context of the country’s recovery from Covid-19 and its wide-ranging implications for social and environmental priorities”.

Under current legislation, dormant assets in England must be dedicated to initiatives that focus on youth, financial inclusion and social investment. 

The consultation seeks views and suggestions on whether these three causes should continue to be supported through the scheme in light of the cost-of-crisis living, and as the country emerges from Covid-19. 

It also asks whether CWFs “should start benefiting from the scheme’s support” and what other social or environmental causes should be considered for the English portion. 

It says: “The government recognises the broad support the scheme has received since its inception, most notably through the excellent voluntary participation rate from industry.

“While the government is proud of this impact, we also recognise that there may be other social or environmental causes that are worth considering. One of these is the CWF proposal: where long-term funding for community infrastructure is distributed to more deprived areas.

“In addition to considering whether to name specific purposes in secondary legislation, the secretary of state may also consider whether to make an order that provides that there are to be no specific purposes. In that scenario, any dormant assets funding in England could be distributed for any social or environmental purpose (subject to complying with any policy directions given to NLCF by the secretary of state).”

Huddleston: ‘A significant amount of money’

In a letter to MPs seen by Civil Society News, charities minister Nigel Huddleston said that 83.9% (£738m) of the total funding pot will be allocated to England. 

He wrote: “This is a significant amount of money, and it is right that we ask the public and the scheme’s voluntary industry participants to have their say in how it should be spent. The consultation includes options on youth, financial inclusion, and social investment – as the three causes that have received funding in England to date – as well as the community wealth fund proposal.”

“The consultation has no government position, so it also provides an opportunity for people to suggest other causes that align with the scheme’s principles in England.”

Wilson: ‘Focus on charity’

Former charities minister Rob Wilson told Civil Society News that he would like to see a “focus on charities coming together with local authorities, business and philanthropists to deliver big projects in left behind areas”.

He added: “A focus on large scale and long term regeneration through enterprise, education, better housing and crime reduction. All led by charities. Putting them front and centre to improve lives.” 

A step towards rebuilding ‘social scaffolding’

The Community Wealth Fund Alliance argued that a CWF would provide crucial support for England’s “left behind” communities by improving their prospects in the long term.

Matt Leach, chief executive officer of Local Trust, a founding member of the alliance, said: “We warmly welcome the launch of this consultation process, as an important first step towards rebuilding the ‘social scaffolding’ of the most ‘left behind’ areas.  And trusting local people to make the decisions about how best this can be achieved.

“Community spaces, youth hubs, libraries, parks, community cafes, locally owned pubs, and recreational facilities. This is the stuff that helps bring life to communities.  And the evidence is that this is often the highest priority for local people when it comes to improving their neighbourhoods.” 

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