History

  • Prime Minister David Cameron pledged shortly after the election of the Coalition Government in May 2010 to establish a Big Society Bank using “every penny of the English dormant bank and building society account money ... alongside private sector investment … [to] make available hundreds of millions of pounds of new finance to some of our most dynamic social organisations”.

    Big Society Capital was launched in April 2012 as a private sector company, independent of Government, with a governance structure involving the Big Society Trust as the guardian of the “mission” of the organisation.

    The Big Society Trust was established concurrently as the majority shareholder of Big Society Capital and it has subsequently become the sole Member of Access - the Foundation for Social Investment (Access) to fulfil a similar governance role for that organisation.

    Dormant Accounts

    The Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Act 2008 enabled banks and building societies to voluntarily hand over monies unclaimed for over 15 years left in dormant accounts to a reclaim fund. The Reclaim Fund Ltd was established by Co-operative Financial Services (later re-named Co-operative Banking Group (CBG)) in response to a request from HM Treasury. It was authorised by the Financial Services Authority (now Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)) and became fully operational in March 2011 as a not-for profit subsidiary of CBG.

    The Reclaim Fund’s purpose is to distribute surplus monies for the benefit of good causes (as directed by the Dormant Accounts Act) and always hold sufficient funds to meet reclaims in perpetuity. While the Reclaim Fund is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBG it operates under a separate regulatory licence, operates independently on an administrative basis and has a separate Board of Directors.

    The Reclaim Fund transfers surplus funds to the National Lottery Community Fund for distribution.

    The National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF)

    The NLCF apportions the money it receives from the Reclaim Fund between the home countries of the United Kingdom on the basis of the Barnett Formula (a standard weighting used for such apportionment by Government). The NLCF forwards the English portion as directed by the secretary of State of the Department for Digital, Culture, media and Sport (DCMS).