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£20m in dormant bank accounts to boost NI's community sector

written by Bella Palmer
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It will provide funding to the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors

More than £20million which has been sitting in dormant bank accounts is to be released to Northern Ireland's (NI) community and voluntary sector.

It means funding of up to £100,000 can be made available to groups who will be able to apply from January.

A bank or building society account that has not been touched for 15 years or more, and where the firm cannot trace the customer who owns the account, becomes registered as dormant.

Across the UK since the Government's dormant account scheme started 12 years ago, more than £600million has been made available to good causes.

Now Northern Ireland's Finance Minister Conor Murphy has launched the £20.5million fund which will provide vital funding to the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors.

The money will be delivered by The National Lottery Community Fund with multi-year grants of up to £100,000 available to build organisations’ resilience and sustainability.

Kate Beggs, The National Lottery Community Fund’s Director for Northern Ireland, said: The launch of this fund is a milestone for the community and voluntary sector in Northern Ireland.

While 2020 has been a year of emergency funding, we know many organisations are trying to plan for the long term and thinking about the changes they need to make to become more sustainable. Those changes require leadership, strategic planning, new skills and strong governance – and also time to stop and think, she said.

Those are things for which funding often isn’t available and that’s where the Dormant Accounts Fund comes in. It will provide flexible, multi-year funding and allow a diverse range of organisations to plan for a more secure future, Beggs said.

Minister Murphy said the move will have a positive impact on peoples' lives.

Visiting Footprints social enterprise in West Belfast he added: The establishment of the Dormant Accounts Fund is great news for the community, voluntary and social enterprise sectors. While the Fund currently is £20.5million it will increase as further Dormant Funds are made available each year.

Third sector groups are often limited to annual funding, causing constant uncertainty and hindering long-term planning. By offering multi-year funding, this Fund will give groups a bridge to become more financially sustainable. Ultimately this allows them to have an even greater impact on people’s lives, he said.

Alongside the grant fund, the Dormant Accounts Fund will also support larger, strategic projects that will enable collaboration right across the sector and develop new and creative approaches to sustainability.

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