Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs has revealed that successive Finance Ministers have to date failed to take advantage of over £7million available through the Dormant Account Scheme.
Roy Beggs, who is the Ulster Unionist MLA for East Antrim, said:
“In 2008, the UK Government passed legislation to allow all four regions of the UK to reinvest dormant account money into local communities. Money in UK bank accounts that had been dormant for 15 years, and where the owner could not be found, could be reinvested back into communities for social and environmental purposes, whilst still maintaining the rights of customers to reclaim their assets at any time. The allocation of the available funds was to be worked out by the Barnett Formula.
“After seeking an update on the scheme I was shocked to learn that every local Finance Minister from 2008 has effectively ignored the scheme.
After asking the current Finance Minister for an update I was informed that to date £7.15m is available for distribution in Northern Ireland. £1.3m was received in 2011-12, £1.4m in 2012-13, £2.3m in 2013-14, £1.4m in 2014-15 and £0.75m in 2015-16.
“I am shocked that this scheme, and the millions of pounds within it, have be allowed to lie idle. It is particularly galling that it has happened when pressures in public funding and household spending have been getting ever tighter.
“Given the pressures on budgets which is limiting public funds it is negligent of the current and previous Finance ministers to have parked £7.15m available to the Northern Ireland Executive and failed to ensure that this £7.15m would be available to address issues and meet the needs of the community.
“In 2009 the then Finance Minister Sammy Wilson published a consultation paper on the establishment of local spending priorities for the dormant accounts scheme. It is simply unacceptable that over 6 years later no funding allocation process has been finalised.
“Communities and projects that could have potentially benefitted all deserve an explanation from Sammy Wilson, Simon Hamilton and now Arlene Foster. Why they have effectively failed to act in the 7 years since the original Bill was passed in Westminster? Yet again this is a clear example of DUP Executive Minsters failing to deliver for the people of Northern Ireland.”