Questions are raised after £1 million of public money is given to the Big Society, despite recent failures being highlighted.
Following the failures from the projects they were given, the Cabinet Office withdrew funding, but they have now received a huge grant from the Big Lotter Fund.
The Big Society Network (BSN) was launched by the Prime Minister in 2010, but have recently been shown to be failing.
One project had the Cabinet Office refuse to pay a final cash installment as it failed to deliver, and ended their support following slow progress.
However, an inquiry has been requested after the BSN has received a £1 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund, and £150,000 from the Cabinet Office, which brings the total public funding to nearly £3 million without proof of success.
Gareth Thomas, the shadow minister for charities, said he was writing to the National Audit Office to demand an investigation into the BSN, and for the Big Lottery Fund to explain why the money was granted to quickly and so easily, despite not offering other organisations the opportunity to bid for the grant.
The Big Society Network (BSN) failed so badly to deliver one project that the Cabinet Office refused to pay a final cash instalment. The Cabinet Office subsequently refused to hand over the final £100,000 of a £300,000 grant and decided to “end support” due to the slow progress in even setting up a website for the project.
Despite this, the BSN’s charitable arm, the Society Network Foundation (SNF), subsequently received £1m from the Big Lottery Fund, which distributes lottery money to community projects, and £150,000 from the Cabinet Office, bringing its total public funding to nearly £3m. The Big Lottery Fund did not offer other organisations the opportunity to bid for the cash.
Gareth Thomas, the shadow minister for charities, said he was writing to the National Audit Office to demand an investigation into the BSN’s lack of activity:
When the Big Society Network was launched by David Cameron they claimed they didn’t want to receive any public money. Yet in just three years they have received a level of public funding most charities can only dream of.
The Big Lottery Fund in particular needs to explain how it granted so much money so quickly and with so little competition or evaluation. Reform of the Big Lottery Fund to make it transparent, more open and more accountable is now urgent.
Richard Caulfield, chief executive of Voluntary Sector North West, said:
Never have so many charitable groups needed the money, yet an organisation with such a chequered past receives such large funds. It is really difficult to see what they have done with the money.
A Big Lottery Fund spokesman said:
The fund carries out stringent checks on the financial fitness of all organisations it funds.
Both the BSN and the Society Network Foundation fully complied with the fund’s assessment procedures, which included providing supporting financial information in full.
Read the full article by The Guardian.