The government has announced plans to widen a scheme known as the dormant assets scheme. Currently, the scheme sees the bank and building societies release assets that have been untouched for 15 years and put into good causes. Now, new proposals by the government want to expand the scheme to include pension and insurance assets.
According to the Commission for Dormant Assets, it is thought that between £400 - £500m of dormant insurance and pension assets would be available under the expanded scheme, with an estimated £40m - £50m becoming available on a yearly basis.
Speaking about expanding the scheme, Tracey Crouch said that the original scheme had made hundreds of millions of pounds available for good causes to date:
"The dormant assets scheme is a brilliant example of how collaboration between business, government and the social sector can help build a society that works for everyone."
However, there has been some criticism of the plans to expand the scheme from the former pension minister Baroness Ros Altmann.
Talking about the expansion she said she "would be very concerned about the government using dormant pension assets since many people lose track of pensions for decades but do come back to find them. The main issue is to ensure that, before any assets are used, proper checks and efforts have been made to contact the owner and allow them to come forward."
Sir Steve Webb, another former pensions minister said he had "no particular issue" with dormant pension assets being put to good use "provided that the pension scheme or provider has done everything they reasonably could to reunite people with their lost pensions". "Indeed, on this basis, there might be a case that this should be put on hold pending the pensions dashboard [a project to help people view all of their pensions savings in one place] which might indeed help to reunite some people with lost pots," he said.