Dormant Accounts

Oral Answers to Questions – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 17th February 2014.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Cathal Boylan Cathal Boylan Sinn Féin 2:30 pm, 17th February 2014

5. asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel for an update on the £3·2 million in dormant accounts of faith-based organisations. (AQT 725/11-15)

Photo of Simon Hamilton Simon Hamilton DUP

The Member will be aware that the issue has been around for some time, and some cynics might say that it, in itself, has become dormant over the past number of years.  We have been attempting to develop the most appropriate scheme to utilise the money in dormant accounts, which, as I understand it, has increased significantly.  As more money passed the threshold — in a bank account showing no transactions for 15 years — it has come into the overall dormant account pool. 

I agree with my predecessor's decision to move away from a grant-based programme to one that provides loans to people in various sectors who work with children and young people and others who are in need.   I have regular meetings with officials on the detail of taking that forward, and I hope soon to be in a position to have a finalised scheme that can start to hit the ground running in the not-too-distant future and do some very good work right across Northern Ireland.

Photo of Cathal Boylan Cathal Boylan Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle.  Gabhaim buíochas leis an Aire as ucht a fhreagra.  I thank the Minister for his answer.  Does he foresee who will administer the loans?

Photo of Simon Hamilton Simon Hamilton DUP

That will be an issue in how we design any scheme.  Who will do that is up for discussion.  My personal favourite approach is that, instead of government administering it and having to create a bureaucracy of our own, we look to the market to people who are operating in Northern Ireland.  I do not wish to name any particular organisations, but several that operate in Northern Ireland offer loans to people in the social enterprise sector.  It is important that we piggyback on their experience and knowledge of the sector so that we can get all the money and, indeed, probably more into very needy projects across Northern Ireland.