The government is to release £150m from dormant bank accounts to help charities, social enterprises and vulnerable people during the coronavirus lockdown.
The money will come from a scheme launched in 2011 in which 30 firms, including all major high street banks, voluntarily transferred funds from accounts that have been inactive for 15 years into a government pot to be used for good causes.
Speaking at Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “We’re releasing £150m from dormant accounts to help social enterprises get affordable credit to people who are financially vulnerable and to support charities tackling youth unemployment.
“Charities both large and small have been at the forefront of this national effort to defeat the coronavirus.
“All of this amounts to a multi-billion pound boost for Britain’s charities.”
A total of £79m has already been unlocked from dormant accounts, while the government said another release of £71m is being accelerated.
The money comes on top of £750m in direct cash grants already announced by the government for charities inundated with requests due to people being directly affected by coronavirus, including hospices and domestic abuse charities.
Mr Dowden revealed the public has raised £800m for charities helping with the crisis, including nearly £33m by Captain Tom Moore who it was announced on Wednesday will receive a knighthood.
During the Downing Street briefing, Mr Dowden said the number of people with COVID-19 in UK hospitals has fallen below 10,000 for the first time since March.
He added: “This is not the time to be complacent, we must remain vigilant.”
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The culture secretary also announced 177,216 COVID-19 tests were carried out in the 24 hours to 9am on Wednesday – the largest number ever, bringing the government closer to Boris Johnson’s promised 200,000 daily tests by the end of May.
He said out of the overall 2,962,227 tests carried out, 248,293 people have been confirmed as having the virus.
As the briefing ended, the Home Office announced it is extending its bereavement scheme to the families and dependants of NHS support staff and social care workers who die as a result of contracting COVID-19.
Relatives will be offered an indefinite leave to remain, free of charge – just as families of NHS and independent health workers were offered in April.
“This will be effective immediately and retrospectively,” Home Secretary Priti Patel said.
The move comes after criticism that care workers, cleaners and porters had been left out of the scheme.
As part of the path to ease the lockdown, Mr Dowden announced he will be chairing a cultural renewal taskforce which will include former footballer Alex Scott, former BBC and ITV chairman Lord Grade, English National Ballet artistic director Tamara Rojo and tech entrepreneur Baroness Lane-Fox.
They will meet weekly to discuss how to get sports and the arts up and running again, albeit in a different format initially.