Interactive Investor

Use it or lose it – government eyes ‘lost’ pension and fund cash

Around £800 million could be seized to help communities recover from Covid-19.

11th January 2021 13:20

Laura Miller from interactive investor

Around £800 million could be seized to help communities recover from Covid-19.

Pension savers and investors should check for forgotten pots and funds or risk having to claw them back from the government under plans to use the money for Covid-19 support.

The government is expanding the Dormant Assets Scheme to include around £800 million stuck in old insurance, pensions, investment and wealth management and securities. The money would be paid to charities to help communities recover from Covid-19.

Under the scheme dormant assets, those which have remained untouched by their owners for 15 years or more, and where attempts to reunite them have failed, are distributed to social and environmental initiatives across the UK. 

More than £745 million has already been distributed from dormant bank and building society accounts, up until now the only source permitted. But this has been expanded to include other types of account, releasing up to another £800 million, according to the government.

Included in the expanded scheme are the dormant proceeds of life insurance and retirement income policies, shares or units in collective investments, investment asset distributions, proceeds from dormant shares and unclaimed proceeds from corporate actions.

If found after their assets have been transferred, owners will always be able to reclaim the same amount they would have had if their assets were never transferred. 

There are more than 30 firms participating in the current Dormant Asset Scheme, including HSBC Bank, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide Building Society, Royal Bank of Scotland, and The Co-operative Bank. 

Financial organisations, which participate on a voluntary basis, must first try to reunite assets with their owners. 

The expansion of the Dormant Assets Scheme marks the completion of a four-year review and public consultation process, led by the financial industry and backed by the government.

Dormant assets used under the scheme have benefited a range of UK social and environmental projects. These include helping young people on the path to employment, tackling financial exclusion, growing the social investment market, and supporting renewable energy.

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said the money has “already made a huge difference to vulnerable people and communities across the UK, especially during the pandemic”.

“Expanding the scheme will mean hundreds of millions more for good causes, helping us to build back stronger in the years to come,” he added.

How to trace dormant assets

Banks and building societies
Customers should contact the firm that held their funds in the first instance, or they can trace their dormant bank accounts through My Lost Account

Insurance and pensions
Owners can visit the Association of British Insurers’ (ABI) website for guidance on tracing lost assets and can also use this tool to search for a lost pension.

Investment and wealth management
Owners should contact firms directly to trace lost assets, using the Investment Association to access a searchable list of firms for the sector.

Owners should reach out to their individual issuer in the first instance, who can then direct them to the correct registrars to support tracing.

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