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£330m released from dormant funds for good causes to mixed reaction

Feb 1st 2018
Up to £330m from dormant bank and building society accounts will be used to help the homeless, disadvantaged young people, local charities and other good causes in the UK over the next four years, Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport and Civil Society has announced.

Around £280 million will be allocated to initiatives across England to help disadvantaged young people into work, provide housing for families and vulnerable people, and tackle problem debt.

Of this, up to £135m  will be used by Big Society Capital (BSC) to fund stable and long-term accommodation for vulnerable groups, as well as to provide support for local charities and social enterprises. This allocation meets existing funding commitments to Big Society Capital, who will use it to leverage substantial private co-investment, to maximise the impact of these funds.

Around £90m will be invested in support of projects that help disadvantaged young people into employment. These initiatives will be jointly designed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Education and Big Lottery Fund with input from young people.

The remaining £55m is set to be awarded to financial inclusion and capability initiatives which will tackle issues such as problem debt, as well as improving access to financial products and services for those on lower incomes.

Up to £50m will be made available for good causes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and will be distributed by the Big Lottery Fund. Each devolved administration will then decide how these funds are used.

Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, said: "By unlocking millions of pounds from dormant accounts for a range of good causes, we can make a real difference to lives and communities across the country. This is part of the Government’s commitment to building a fairer society and tackling the social injustices that hold people back from achieving their full potential.

"Working in close partnership with the financial sector and civil society, we are determined to help create a country that works for everyone and build a Britain fit for the future."

The funding for social investment in England will also include £10 million for Access - the Foundation for Social Investment, BSC’s sister organisation.

In a joint statement, Cliff Prior, Chief Executive of Big Society Capital, and Seb Elsworth, Chief Executive of Access said: "This capital will enable many more charities and social enterprises to improve the lives of people all around the UK, delivering larger and more innovative solutions in the focus areas of homes for people in need, and supporting communities experiencing disadvantage."

The Government will work closely with the Big Lottery Fund, as well as a range of social sector and private sector partners, to develop these initiatives over the next few months.

Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive of Big Lottery Fund, said: "The Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Act has made over half a billion pounds available for good causes in the UK. The Big Lottery Fund is proud to be the organisation which distributes these funds and we look forward to working with Government and others to do this. This funding will give people the opportunity to take the lead in making lasting and sustainable change in their lives and communities."

However there has been criticism from some quarters that the amount falls short of the £1bn promised by former Civil Society Minister Rob Wilson. 

And Jay Kennedy, Head of Policy and Research at The Directory of Social Change, writing in the Guardian, is concerned that the announcement raises more questions than it answers about how the money will reach the most effective organisations on front line. He also suggests that the money would be better invested in an endowment for the community foundation network and other grass roots movements.


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