Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland community fund to use 'dormant' money

Mervyn Storey Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Finance Minister Mervyn Storey said the scheme would "improve access to finance for a range of organisations"

Details of a community fund that will use money from dormant bank accounts have been announced by the finance minister.

The Northern Ireland Community Finance Fund was first proposed more than a year ago in the 2015/16 budget.

It will have an initial £7.1m and will receive an estimated £800,000 a year in subsequent years.

Organisations such as community groups and churches will be able to bid for funds as either grants or loans.

Dormant accounts are legally defined as those that have seen no customer-initiated activity for at least 15 years.

The accounts are identified by banks and then the money is distributed by the Big Lottery Fund.

Dormant account charitable schemes already operate in other parts of the UK.

The minister, Mervyn Storey, said the scheme would "improve access to finance for a range of organisations".

"It will enable such organisations to make further investment in their activities, grow their organisations and become self sustaining through the availability of finance," he said.

The scheme is expected to be operational by the end of this year.

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