The Building Societies' Association says the money left in dormant society accounts bears little relation to the billions that the Government is looking to retrieve.
Budget proposals to force societies and banks to hand over cash in dormant accounts to charity has provoked a row between the Treasury and the BSA.
In an effort to justify its opposition to the proposals, the BSA is “working backwards” to illustrate its status with relevant facts and figures. It is calling for greater clarity from the Government over exactly how it intends to classify a dormant account.
Early indications from the BSA's research show that the total value of members' assets held in society accounts over 15 years old that have been identified as “gone away” is around £22m.
But National Savings & Investments admits it is sitting on £1.5bn dormant cash and the Unclaimed Assets Register analysis estimates that there is around £15bn in forgotten life policies, pensions, accounts and shares.
BSA external affairs manager Rachel Blackmore says: “Although £22m sounds a lot in terms of the whole sector, it is it is a relatively small amount of money and certainly nothing like the £20bn figure often quoted. Our view is that this money belongs to people who deposited it in the societies. We firmly believe that the building societies put it to good use to offer good-value mortgages.”