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Last Updated: Monday, 5 December 2005, 18:54 GMT
Unclaimed accounts to fund youth
Prince Harry during his gap year
Youth keen to follow in Prince Harry's footsteps might receive help
Chancellor Gordon Brown has announced plans to release unclaimed cash from bank and building society accounts to pay for youth and community facilities.

Money released from dormant accounts should help fund voluntary work by youth, both in the UK and abroad.

Cash would also be freed up for local authorities to set up a youth fund.

And sports facilities and amenities should receive fresh cash injections as part of efforts to "regenerate sport for young people in our country".

Community service

Up to 100m of initial finance would go towards funding voluntary work during a gap year, whether in the UK or abroad, "for young people who could otherwise not afford this", as well as to "fund part time and full time community service in every constituency", Mr Brown said.

We want the 2012 Olympics and any English bid for the 2018 World Cup to regenerate sport for young people
Chancellor Gordon Brown

"The Government is joining with seven of Britain's leading companies to launch the country's first national youth community service."

Local communities should be strengthened by "a young people's fund" for amenities and activities "run by young people; decided by young people themselves", Mr Brown said.

"As a first step, we will provide finance for each local authority," he said, promising "on average, half a million pounds for each local authority over the next two years".

The sports funding would be channelled through "a National Sports Foundation, which, modelled on the Football Foundation's successful investment in football facilities, will invest new money in improving facilities and amenities and participation across all sports in every area of our country", Mr Brown said.

"We want the 2012 Olympics and, beyond that, any English bid for the 2018 World Cup to regenerate sport for young people in our country," Mr Brown said.

Written warning

According to some estimates, about 15bn is held in dormant accounts in the UK, although the sums released under Mr Brown's proposal are not expected to be anywhere near this figure.

The 15bn figure refers to dormant accounts going back to the 19th century, whereas the chancellor's deal with banks and building societies covers a period of about 15 years.

Consequently, about 1bn could be released to fund youth and community projects, according to some estimates.

An account passes from live to dormant when a bank or building society loses touch with the account holder for a period of three years, although account holders should not fear losing their money.

Most of the accounts are believed to belong to people who have died.

Account holders will generally receive written warnings before their accounts pass from live to dormant, and even if such a transition takes place they will be able to reclaim their cash, though doing so will involve some paperwork.

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