Revitalising trusts to support local communities

10th August 2018

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has launched a new Civil Society Strategy which aims to build stronger communities by bringing together businesses, charities and the public sector.

The Strategy includes the Revitalising Trusts initiative, which will see UK Community Foundations working with the Charity Commission and the Office for Civil Society to transfer up to £20million of inactive trusts to Community Foundations to invest into local communities. It is expected that this will provide an extra £1million in grant funding to local community and voluntary groups every year.

There are many charitable trust funds in England and Wales that are inactive. The original founders and trustees may have passed away and many of the funds are now relatively small pots of money which makes it difficult to ensure they have a meaningful and local impact. Collectively these trusts amount to a significant amount which could make a huge difference to local communities.

The Community Foundation for Surrey has been able to help a number of inactive or dormant local Trusts by transferring their funds across to us, where we are able to put the money to use by supporting local projects across the county.  One such example is The Thomas Trust, whose Trustees transferred the Trust’s capital to create a bespoke Community Foundation Fund in 2014 and continue to award grants to care for elderly, disabled and blind people in the Godalming area. To date, over £30,000 in grants have been awarded to benefit local projects. Dr Chris Jagger MBE, panel member of the Thomas Trust Fund commented, “The previous Trustees of the Thomas Trust are most encouraged at the enhanced awareness and profile brought to the charitable aspirations of Betty Thomas through having the privilege of being part of a larger and prestigious organisation in the Community Foundation for Surrey”.

The Office for Civil Society and the Charity Commission are working with UK Community Foundations to transfer up to £20million of inactive trusts to Community Foundations to invest into local communities. It is expected that this will provide an extra £1million in grant funding to local community and voluntary groups every year.

Community Foundations are established, trusted charities that support local communities across the UK. Community Foundations reach every postcode in the UK and focus on the most pressing needs in an area. Community Foundations are leading grant makers and have a strong track record of supporting communities. They are reliable with a trusted model of delivery and are all quality accredited.

The Charity Commission and the Office for Civil Society have chosen to work with Community Foundations based on their expertise and experience in supporting communities and ensuring that funds are distributed well to tackle local need.

Minister for Civil Society, Tracey Crouch said, ‘this initiative will make a real difference to people and communities across the country. By working with UK Community Foundations and the Charity Commission, we will honour the original aims of these now-inactive charitable trusts by redistributing funds to help those that need it most.”

Laura Thurlow, CEO of the Community Foundation for Surrey said, ‘We’re really pleased that Community Foundations have been recognised as having the local knowledge and experience to support this project. We have previously been able to help inactive local trusts to ensure the funds can continue to be used to support local Surrey communities, and we are very happy to offer this solution for local trusts.’

Fabian French, CEO of UK Community Foundations said, ‘we are delighted to be working with the Office for Civil Society and the Charity Commission to unlock these inactive trusts to benefit local communities for years to come. We have developed a simple solution that helps inactive trusts transfer their assets which meets all the required Charity Commission approvals’.

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