Banks should be forced to take part in a scheme to put money languishing in forgotten accounts to good use, MPs said today.
The influential Treasury Select Committee welcomed the government’s initiative to allocate up to £500 million of unclaimed assets to good causes.
But it said banks and building societies should be compelled to participate in the scheme.
Committee chairman John McFall said: ‘A voluntary unclaimed assets scheme won’t work – banks should be compelled to participate.
‘This scheme is not in the banks’ interests, so they must not be given the opportunity to duck out of it.’
The committee also called for the scheme to be extended to include money that had been left forgotten in National Savings and Investments accounts.
It said there was around £436 million in accounts at the Treasury-backed savings group that had not been touched for 15 or more years, rising to £993 million if savings certificates and Premium Bond prizes were included.
It said if the government imposed the scheme on banks, it was only fair that it practised what it preached and handed over unclaimed assets held by NS&I to good causes.
Angela Knight, Chief Executive of the British Bankers’ Association, said: ‘We applaud plans to release truly unclaimed money and put it to good use. Our members are fully committed to working closely with the government to make the unclaimed assets scheme a success.
‘As the committee acknowledges, we are already making significant efforts to reunite customers with funds in dormant accounts. We have boosted our campaign in the run-up to the unclaimed assets scheme, leading to a 30-fold increase in claims through the BBA.
‘We agree with the need to make it simple for customers to claim. The BBA’s central re-claim team is now handling 400 claims a day, often helping claimants who do not know which bank holds their funds.’
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