Headlines: May 18th, 2007



Millions of pounds in unclaimed assets could be used to build facilities for young people across England under proposals going out to consultation. The measures would see money from dormant bank accounts being invested in communities to provide youth services, financial capability and inclusion.

The Economic Secretary, Ed Balls, and Minister for the Third Sector Ed Miliband have begun consultation on the proposals, which could see more than 700 new places for young people being built. Youth services that could benefit include sports facilities, youth clubs, places to participate in activities such as dance and drama, and mobile youth centres.

The consultation has been welcomed by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, though it expressed concern that Government appeared to be trying to direct the outcome by specifying at this stage what its preferred priorities were. The NCVO said it was vital the process was genuine, transparent and Compact compliant.

The consultation proposes using The Big Lottery Fund (BIG) to allocate the money as the Fund has a UK-wide distribution infrastructure in place and the capacity to handle assets of this scale as well as experience of delivering community programmes with an emphasis on young people. The two ministers believe using BIG will be an efficient way to distribute the assets, limiting spending on administration so that as much of the money as possible is available for projects.

The Government is also planning to use a proportion of the money that is available to develop the social investment market so more sustainable funding can be delivered to social enterprises, charities and community groups. To this end it is planning to consult on proposals for a specialist body to distribute funds for social investment, which will be allocated via BIG. Responses to a joint Treasury and Cabinet Office review of the future role of the third sector in social and economic regeneration has shown that access to appropriate finance is a significant concern for third sector organisations.