The Dormant Assets Bill was in the House of Lords last week for its Second Reading. The campaign was following the proceedings closely, as this piece of legislation and the new assets it will release could play an integral role in establishing a Community Wealth Fund (CWF). Peers debated the Bill for over four hours and made several interventions in support of a CWF.
What’s in the Bill?
The Dormant Assets Bill will allow funding from new dormant asset classes (bonds, stocks, shares, securities, insurance and pension policies) to be spent on ‘good causes’. It amends the Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Act of 2008, which defined the ‘good causes’ that funding could be spent on in England as:
- Young people
- Personal finance
- Social investment
The Dormant Assets Bill will broaden these purposes, so that they are in line with those of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, to include wider ‘social and environmental’ goals.
However, what the Bill actually allows is for new purposes to be designated in secondary legislation put forward by the government. They have committed to a full and open consultation on what the first new purpose should if this Bill is successfully enacted.
A big opportunity for the CWF
We have been lobbying government to include the CWF as one of the key purposes to benefit from the expanded dormant assets scheme, as it is not currently in the Bill.
Ideally, the campaign wants to see the CWF either get written into the Bill as is, or have the government commit to implementing it after this Bill passes.
During the Second Reading of the Bill on 26 May, the Community Wealth Fund Alliance (CWFA) worked with supportive Peers to table interventions highlighting the benefits that this type of investment could bring.
Overall, 8 of the 26 speakers referenced the CWF. Of these, Baroness Lister of Burtersett and Baroness Eaton made extended speeches about the need to explicitly commit dormant assets funding to the CWF.
Baroness Eaton calls for a Community Wealth Fund during her speech in the House of Lords.
Despite being pressed several times for her views on the proposal, the Minister, Baroness Diana Barran, did not reference it in her closing remarks. The campaign will continue to push her and the government for an answer.
The Bill is now moving to Committee Stage in the Lords, which will take place 21 and 23 June. This is the opportunity for Peers to go through the Bill line by line, debate points and make amendments.
With the help of Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, we will be submitting an amendment to the Bill that would allow funding from the dormant assets scheme to be invested into a national endowment for ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods.
Call to action
As members of the CWFA, we need your help. If you know any members of the House of Lords, please get in touch and ask them to attend the Committee Stage of the Dormant Assets Bill and support our amendment to make the CWF a reality!
If you have any questions or would like any more information, please contact Rob Day (Policy and Parliamentary Officer, Local Trust) on Rob.Day@localtrust.org.uk.