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The Dormant Assets Scheme: Report Release

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Early this morning the Government published the report from the Industry Champions on the proposed expansion of the current dormant assets scheme. The ‘blueprint’ report outlines three key recommendations described below. Equiniti alongside the ICSA Registrars Group have been engaged in these discussions. 

Following today’s announcement a consultation will follow in due course with the ability for issuers to comment on the proposed recommendations.

Below is the latest release alongside the report from the Industry Champions.

The Dormant Assets Scheme: a valuable opportunity

A decade on from the enactment of the act that enabled the establishment of the dormant assets scheme, now is the time for us to join forces to reunite even more customers with their assets and build on its successes. The scheme has already made an important contribution to good causes across the UK. It has funded the provision of long-term accommodation for more than 2,000 vulnerable people, jobs and training opportunities for 26,000 disadvantaged young people, and affordable loans for more than 24,000 low-income consumers. As a society, we in the UK should be proud of this work. 

Building on the work of the 2016 Dormant Assets Commission, we have been working in collaboration with colleagues from leading firms since last June on designing the next phase of the scheme.

Our report, published this week, sets out a blueprint for expanding the dormant assets scheme. In it, we make recommendations to firms, the government and regulators. These cover:

  • the potential scope of an expanded scheme across industry
  • definitions of dormancy for each sector
  • other technical and practical considerations, including legislative and regulatory implications, and processes for transferring and reclaiming assets.

Reunification is central to the scheme – this lies at its heart and is an industry priority. 

While we know that many firms are already treating the reunification of customers with their assets as a priority, an expanded scheme would encourage them to share and develop these best practices further. And when it has been impossible to trace customers with whom firms have lost touch — perhaps because they have passed away without leaving a next of kin or beneficiaries, or moved with no forwarding address or phone numbers — unlocking the funds for good causes is the right thing to do.

We were heartened to see that £55m of the latest tranche of dormant assets funding is being used to tackle financial exclusion - an issue about which many in our sectors feel strongly. Beyond making possible important initiatives like these, the scheme is beneficial to customers and firms alike. Customers can reclaim the full value of their assets at any time. Firms benefit from regaining contact with lost customers, streamlining their internal processes and enhanced corporate social responsibility.

We believe that an expanded scheme, with greater participation from firms across industry, could prove to be powerful, both in customer reunification and in supporting good causes.

Is more work needed? Of course. Legislation will need to be amended to enable the scheme’s expansion. Of prime importance will be gaining consensus on sector-specific definitions of dormancy. We look forward to tackling these issues through close collaboration with the government as it considers next steps.

This report marks the end of the design stage of the scheme expansion. We’re entering the implementation phase with real momentum - and we would urge colleagues from across industry to seize this opportunity.

Kirsty Cooper
Group General Counsel and Company Secretary at Aviva (Insurance and Pensions Champion)

Simon Kenyon
Managing Director of Consumer Banking at Lloyds Banking Group (Banks and Building Societies Champion)

William Nott
CEO, SYZ Asset Management (Formerly Chief Executive Officer, M&G Securities) (Investment and Wealth Management Champion)

Robert Welch
Group Secretary at Tesco (Securities Champion)