10 Downing Street used public money to bail out a charity run by a party donor, a damning report by the National Audit Office has revealed.
Having used the Charities Act to avoid running a competitive process to run the Big Society Awards, the Cabinet Office had already spaffed £350,000 in public funding on the Big Society Network (BSN) — chaired by Tory donor Martyn Rose — before they realised it was underperforming against grant objectives.
With the struggling charity, founded by Tory supporters to bolster the party’s ‘Big Society’ narrative, coming back for more cash, officials at the Cabinet Office advised the PM’s office that:
“[It] would not be appropriate to grant-fund an organisation that is in financial difficulty or that is struggling to appropriately manage its financial affairs”
BSN was then late for filing their 2011/12 accounts, which subsequently revealed a deficit of £181,000. Despite these concerns, the PM’s office still instructed officials to award yet another grant. The operation is now in the process of being wound up.
The claims of improper political influence over BSN’s funding do not end there. A former trustee of NESTA, a funding body endowed by the National Lottery, has claimed that the body was “forced to provide to provide funding for the Big Society Network”.