Opinion  

Expanding dormant assets scheme will help tackle financial exclusion

Adrian Smith

Adrian Smith

All our running costs to date have been covered by investment returns from the assets we safeguard – and the investments we make are low-risk and reflect a strong Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) criteria.

Achievements

So, what has been achieved so far?

Since 2011 £745 million has been made available to good causes, with £435 million being used to establish Big Society Capital to grow the social investment market in the UK.

To date its investments have included supporting over 2,000 vulnerable people in moving into appropriate housing and facilitating job and training opportunities for 26,000 disadvantaged young people. 

Within the last year, Fair4All Finance has been established to combat financial exclusion among vulnerable people by increasing access to fair, affordable and appropriate financial services.

Dormant assets have also helped to establish Youth Futures Foundation, an independent organisation set up to tackle youth unemployment with £90m of funding that will reduce the barriers keeping nearly 500,000 young people out of work across England.

Most recently, in response to Covid-19, we have worked closely with government to accelerate distributions for this year – providing a much-needed injection of £150m to front-line charities while ensuring this is done prudently, proportionately and in line with consumer protections.

Scope of consultation

Dormant assets are being used to make a positive difference to thousands of lives.

The proposed expansion could help achieve even more.

Bringing dormant assets in insurance, investments and securities into the scheme – with the potential for pensions to feature when appropriate, either now or in future – could unlock millions of additional funds and unite more financial services firms with government and the third sector to help tackle social problems and financial exclusion.

The key to any expansion will be maintaining equally strong protections for policy or shareholders as currently apply to bank and building society account holders.

Following work led by four industry champions to lay the ground for potential expansion, the consultation process has invited a range of institutions – including insurers, wealth managers and publicly listed businesses – to share views, add to the debate and ask questions about the practical and technical considerations involved to help shape the future of the scheme. 

I believe the dormant assets scheme provides a unique channel for the UK financial services industry to support social investment and youth and financial inclusion initiatives.

At RFL, we are proud of the part that we have played in facilitating the scheme over the last nine years, and will continue to channel that experience to help support participation and inform the next stage of discussions and development.