The Dormant Accounts Fund Disbursements Board published its first disbursement plan on 7 November 2003. The plan sets out the board's priorities and provides for the distribution of funds to assist programmes or projects targeting three broad categories of persons — those affected by economic and social disadvantage, those affected by educational disadvantage and persons with a disability. A significant level of disbursements from the fund will be ring-fenced for programmes and projects within RAPID, CLÁR and drugs task force areas.
The board has engaged Area Development Management Limited, ADM, to administer the initial round of funding on its behalf. In this regard, an invitation to organisations, groups etc. to make applications for funding was advertised in the national press on Friday, 21 November. I understand that approximately 190 applications have been received to date which ADM is assessing on an ongoing basis.
At its meeting on 19 December 2003, the board approved three projects for funding totalling approximately €175,000. The board will next meet on 17 February 2004 and it is anticipated that a significant number of projects will be submitted to the board for decision at this meeting.
The current value of the fund is in the order of €175 million, including a reserve which must be maintained to meet claims for repayment and various costs associated with administering the scheme. A second transfer of funds from credit institutions, together with the first transfer of moneys from life assurance policies, will take place at the end of April 2004. However, at this stage I do not have an accurate estimate as to the likely yield from these sources in 2004 and this information will only become clearer at the end of April.
The Deputy should also note that at its meeting of 16 December, the Government reviewed arrangements in relation to dormant accounts. It decided to give the board key roles in relating to advising, monitoring and planning in the area of dormant accounts, with particular regard to the following: advising on priority areas to be considered annually for funding; preparation of the disbursement plan; and reviewing, evaluating and reporting on the effectiveness, additionality and impact of disbursements.
In the context of the need to ensure appropriate capacity to evaluate and process applications, and to secure maximum transparency on disbursements, the Government decided that the objectives of the disbursements scheme would remain unchanged but that it would make decisions on disbursements. Such decisions would be taken following a transparent application and evaluation process, and appropriate arrangements would be put in place so that spending from the dormant accounts fund is clearly separate to Estimates provision. Draft legislation is to be brought forward in 2004 with a view to giving effect to these decisions.