Dormant charity’s £475m should be split between good causes

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The National Fund was set up in 1928 to pay the country’s war debts, but has sat in a bank account ever since

14th May 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Hundreds of million pounds that have been stuck within a dormant charity should be given to good causes.

The National Fund was set up in 1928 to pay the country’s national debt – with £500,000 allocated by an anonymous donor to help meet national war debts.

However the fund – which has risen to £475 million due to interest – has never been used and now the Labour Party is calling for it to be split between charities.

In 2011, the Charity Commission sought permission from the attorney general to donate the money to UK charities, as it was deemed that the fund would not be useful in allocating towards the national debt, which sits at £1.7 trillion.

However no decision was ever issued by the attorney general Jeremy Wright and this has prompted the Labour Party to call for the money to be used.

Steve Reed, Labour’s shadow charities minister, said: “This money has sat idly for nearly a century, accumulating in value but contributing nothing to either the national debt or good causes.

“This money would help charities feed the hungry, house the homeless and care for the sick, as well as supporting other worthy causes.”

In a written response to the MP, Wright said he recognised that there is no prospect of the fund paying off the national debt but the intentions of the person who set it up must be respected, and he would release his plans soon.

John Downie, director of public affairs for the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), said the £475 million could deliver real change if used correctly. 

“The UK’s national debt is now standing at more than a trillion pounds, and it is only right that this money goes directly to those who are most in need," he said. "£475 million is a colossal sum which could be used in a radical way to help most vulnerable and poorest in our society. Careful consideration must be given to how it can be best used to deliver real change in the UK - which is what the fund was originally set up for.”