Trust fund transfers look to benefit old and young across Norfolk

Unused cash sitting in dozens of separate local charitable trust funds all over Norfolk could be pooled and put to use to help charities and support services for younger and older people across the county.

Norfolk County Council has teamed up with Norfolk Community Foundation to create a single children's fund worth around �120,000 after transferring responsibility for several charitable trusts the council had responsibility for into one pot.

The move, which was agreed by the council's ruling cabinet on Monday was made possible after lengthy talks with the Charity Commission.

Work is also underway to transfer 12 trusts to a new community services fund for older people worth around �350,000 and local groups and charities will be able to apply directly to the new funds for help.

Graham Tuttle, director of Norfolk Community Foundation, the move was the start of a process to bring together the cash which he believed had the potential to tap into hundreds of small trust funds currently overseen by a raft of public bodies including parish and district councils.

'Effectively these are trusts which the trustees may no longer be alive or the reason the charity was originally set up is no longer relevant,' Mr Tuttle said. 'This is an opportunity to do something worthwhile with funds that otherwise would be dormant. It's nice of the county council to recognise they should do something with that money in these difficult times.'

Mr Tuttle said that councils across the country were looking at the concept, and he said the county model could be followed by other bodies which oversee trusts such as district and parish councils.

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'What we wanted to do was create a template that would allow us to go to other local authorities, district authorities and parish councils,' Mr Tuttle added. 'There are probably hundreds of dormant trusts throughout the county that are in the management control of parish or district councils. The message we want to get out is that we have done it with Norfolk County Council, and this demonstrates that we can do it.

'We have started working with North Norfolk District Council, and we have had talks with Norwich City Council.'

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children's services, said that young people would also be involved in the decision-making process for allocating the children's fund bids.

'This money has been specifically left for the young people of Norfolk and I couldn't think of a better delivery vehicle for it,' she said.

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