£20.5m from dormant accounts to be opened for community groups

Finance Minister Conor Murphy said the fund will help community groups become more financially stable.

A £20.5 million fund from dormant accounts is set to be opened for community groups.

Multi-year grants of up to £100,000 will be available under the scheme to be delivered by the National Lottery Community Fund.

Stormont Finance Minister Conor Murphy spoke about the funding during a visit to Footprints social enterprise in west Belfast on Monday.

Announcing details of the scheme in the Assembly, he said the Dormant Accounts Fund is set to increase as further dormant funds are made available each year.

"Third sector groups are often limited to annual funding, causing constant uncertainty and hindering long-term planning," he said.

As well as providing grants, the Dormant Accounts Fund will also support larger, strategic projects, which may focus on a particular issue such as diversity and inclusion, social finance or volunteering.

Kate Beggs, The National Lottery Community Fund's NI Director, described the launch of the fund as a "milestone" for the community and voluntary sector.

"While 2020 has been a year of emergency funding, we know many organisations are trying to plan for the long term and thinking about the changes they need to make to become more sustainable," she said.

"Those changes require leadership, strategic planning, new skills and strong governance - and also time to stop and think.

"Those are things for which funding often isn't available and that's where the Dormant Accounts Fund comes in.

"It will provide flexible, multi-year funding and allow a diverse range of organisations to plan for a more secure future."

The Dormant Accounts Fund will open for applications at noon on 12 January.