James Moore: Another great idea for other people's money

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The Independent Online

Outlook A politician eyeing a big unclaimed pot of cash which isn't his for a pet project. Plus ça change?

In the midst of a chilly economy made all the more icy by brutal public sector cutbacks, not to mention a Budget offering tax cuts for business and the uber-wealthy but precious little for anyone else, David Cameron's vainglorious Big Society project had been all but forgotten. Well now its back, using other people's money as funding.

To be fair (it's hard), the idea of using cash held in so called "dormant" bank accounts – those which haven't been used in donkeys years – is nothing new. It was actually the last Labour government that came up with the plan. And to be fair (pushing the boat out here), the "Big Society Fund", because using the word bank has all sorts of unpleasant connotations these days, will offer loans at affordable rates to social enterprises. So the money will in theory be paid back rather than being frittered away.

But to suggest that this £600m "big idea" will do anything more than provide a sticking plaster for "society's biggest ills" is risible.

It is true that the money from these accounts has been sitting around unjustifiably fattening the banks' coffers for years.

And anyone with a dormant account can theoretically get theirs back should they chose to do so (although this isn't anything like as easy as has been claimed).

Still, using this vault of other people's money to help politicians and their favourite bankers, who have done so much to lead us into the present unhappy state of affairs, feel better about themselves seems less like a scheme than it does a scam.

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