Good news for good causes

Unlike in many other countries, anyone who has ‘lost’ an old bank or building society account in the UK remains entitled to the money, however long it takes them to find it again.

In February, I had the pleasure of being part of an article on BBC Scotland featuring Carol Allison and her £250 windfall. Carol’s granny had taken her to the bank every week as a child to deposit a shilling. More than 60 years later, she dug out the old bank passbook, and her £2.50 had become £250. To her delight, she was able to reclaim it. This was a lovely human interest story at a time when good news is at a premium.

Carol’s experience is not unique. Unlike in many other countries, anyone who has ‘lost’ an old bank or building society account in the UK remains entitled to the money, however long it takes them to find it again. But it is not just the account holder that benefits. For the past 11 years, banks and building societies in the UK have chosen to transfer money held in ‘dormant’ accounts to the Dormant Assets Scheme, which is operated by Reclaim Fund Limited (RFL). We hold sufficient funds to cover future reclaims, and use the remainder to fund vital social and community initiatives across the UK through the National Lottery Community Fund. We’ve already transferred £800 million to good causes, from financial inclusion to building employment prospects for vulnerable young people.

A point that I covered at the forthcoming CGIUKI ESG Summit, is that these benefits are no longer restricted to bank and building society accounts. Under recent legislation that takes effect this summer, the Dormant Assets Scheme has been expanded to ‘dormant’ investment and wealth management assets, insurance and pension policies, and shares in publicly listed companies that are on the gone-away register.

This is a ‘good news’ story for businesses, policy and asset holders and wider communities alike. Once they have tried to reunite assets with their original owners, companies in these sectors can transfer dormant assets to RFL. By doing so, they clean up their balance sheets but crucially fulfil the ‘S in their ESG’ objectives by funding vital projects that support the most vulnerable in our society. Policy and asset holders like Carol can still reclaim their assets at any time in the future. But just as importantly, our society benefits from funds that would otherwise be sitting idle.

To find out more about the Dormant Assets Scheme and how you can participate, please email dormantassets@reclaimfund.co.uk or go to our website, www.reclaimfund.co.uk.

Adrian Smith, Chief Executive, Reclaim Fund Limited

Adrian spoke at our ESG Summit, on the session titles “S” is for “social”.

We will be covering ESG and a range of other subjects at Governance 2022.

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