MILLIONS of pounds which have been gathering dust in long-forgotten bank accounts could be used to help organisations in Portsmouth and the surrounding area.
Simon Frost, the chief executive of community development finance institution Parity Trust, based in North Harbour, says the government’s Big Society Capital investment will generate jobs.
It was this week launched by Prime Minister David Cameron, and will see £400m taken from bank accounts that have lain dormant for 15 years or more redistributed to worthwhile causes and organisations.
An extra £200m will come from the UK’s four largest high street banks – Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and RBS.
The project has a mission to grow what’s called a ‘social investment market’, which is a market whereby charities, social enterprises and community groups can provide services for the public good and not for profit, and access affordable finance to do so.
Mr Frost said: ‘In Portsmouth and our neighbouring communities, social investment is needed that will help charities and not-for-profit companies like us grow and increase the number of services, therefore generating new jobs, improving the environment and generally helping the local community.
‘And if we can ultimately secure some of this new finance, we can develop and also provide new services very quickly: for example, cash to improve and refurbish local community facilities, provide more affordable housing for rent and purchase, and help people maintain their homes.’
The fund will back social enterprises that prove they can repay an investment through the income they generate.
‘This is about supplying capital to help society expand,’ said Prime Minister David Cameron.
‘Just as finance from the City has been essential to help businesses grow and take on the world, so finance from the City is going to be essential to helping tackle our deepest social problems.’
The British Bankers’ Association stressed that people who had unclaimed money in bank accounts would still be able to get it back.
‘Cash will be kept back for people who come forward and the BBA’s My Lost Account scheme is there to help people search for their funds for free,’ said Angela Knight, chief executive of the BBA.
‘We recognise people’s growing interest in how their money is used and we are delighted to have been able to help make Big Society.
‘Capital work and enable banks and investors to combine financial return with social good.’