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UK Government Removes Community Wealth Fund Amendment From Upcoming Bill

17th Jan 2022

The UK Government have just removed an amendment from the upcoming Dormant Assets Bill that would allow for the creation of Community Wealth Funds… however acknowledged  there was a lot of widespread support for the concept.

 

The amendment, previously added by the House of Lords, was removed in the House of Commons during its committee stage, meaning funding will no longer be able to be used specifically to support social infrastructure.

In its place, the Government are planning a consultation on the future correct usage of such funds and to determine if community wealth funds will be suitable.

 

I acknowledge the support expressed by many in the House for using the English portion of dormant assets funding to support, through community wealth funds, the left-behind communities, which experience high levels of deprivation and low levels of social infrastructure. However, the government wanted to protect the integrity of the consultation process, which offers the most appropriate route to make that a reality. This consultation on how funds in England are used will be launched as soon as possible after Royal Assent and will explicitly include community wealth funds as an option to consider for the English portion.

A 12-week consultation on expanding the causes money to which money can go will begin as early as this summer, with community wealth funds included as a clear option. Should it be determined that the community wealth funds are the best use of some of the English portion, the bill is already designed to provide the most appropriate avenue to make that a reality.

Nigel Huddleston – Minister for Civil Society

 

At the moment, money from the dormant assets fund can only be spent on youth, financial inclusion and social investment in England, although the devolved nations have more flexibility on the spending of the fund.

 

I am surprised that the government want to remove a measure that empowers communities and surely goes to the heart of the alleged levelling up agenda. There are members on both sides of the committee who represent areas that will benefit from this kind of initiative. The most deprived areas often have the weakest third-sector capacity and infrastructure, which adds to a cycle of disadvantage. Community wealth funds aim to halt that cycle. They are aligned with the aims of the levelling up agenda and have the potential to transform communities and lives.

Jeff Smith – MP, Labour

 

I do not believe that the minister is correct in claiming that secondary legislation is the most appropriate mechanism for deciding on the distribution. We all understand that there is limited opportunity for debate on secondary legislation, and there is, of course, no opportunity to amend it. That means parliament’s role will be limited to rubber-stamping the government’s proposals. Were the fund to remain written into the bill, the Community Wealth Fund Alliance could start the process of securing match funding and planning to get money into the most left-behind communities as soon as possible after Royal Assent.

Diana Johnson – MP, Labour

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