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Bank Services

Question for Treasury

UIN 806, tabled on 12 May 2021

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to establish mutual banks from dormant funds in banks.

Answered on

18 May 2021

The Government welcomes the efforts to establish regional mutual banks and recognises the importance of diversity in the banking system. Officials have been engaging with prospective mutual banks over their efforts to raise capital and look forward to further discussions.

Banking Competition Remedies Ltd (BCR) was established in 2018 as the independent body to implement and oversee the NatWest (previously RBS)-funded Alternative Remedies Package (the Package), including the £425m Capability and Innovation Fund (CIF). This consists of 23 pre-determined grants divided into five pools (A – E). Each pool has a distinct pro-competition purpose based on criteria agreed between HM Treasury (HMT) and the European Commission.

Eligible financial services providers competed for these grants to improve their financial products and services available to SMEs, and to improve their capability to compete with NatWest in the provision of banking services to SMEs. Most of the grants have now been allocated, except £5m worth of funds returned to BCR in January 2021. BCR intend to run a ‘Pool F’ consultation process for the returned funds in August 2021 and bodies eligible for pools A, B or C will be able to apply.

BCR is independent from government and has sole responsibility for evaluating applications and allocating grants to eligible bodies under the CIF. HMT plays no role in the ongoing delivery of the Package and does not have any influence over the decision-making process.

BCR has responsibility for communicating information regarding the Package to the market. Further information on the Package, including eligibility criteria and timelines for implementation is available on BCR’s website.

The distribution of dormant accounts money is governed by the Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Act 2008. Following the government's commitment to expanding the Dormant Assets Scheme, the Dormant Assets Bill was introduced to the House of Lords on Wednesday 12 May.

The government recognises the public interest in how this funding is spent in England and has concluded that some increased flexibility in determining this would be beneficial. The Bill therefore amends the approach to restrictions in England in the 2008 Act to mirror the model used for the devolved administrations. This is intended to allow the Government to respond to public feedback and evolving social and environmental needs in England over time by setting the causes through secondary legislation, which is subject to due consultation and parliamentary approval. Should the measure pass, the Government intends to launch a public consultation on the causes to which future funding can be distributed in England.

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