Cabinet Office grant to Big Society charity questioned

 

A senior political adviser to David Cameron arranged a meeting in Downing Street to garner support for a charity accused of squandering £2.5m of public funds, The Independent has learnt.

Shaun Bailey, a special adviser to the Prime Minister on Youth and Crime, invited representatives of the Big Society Network to Downing Street so they could pitch a proposal to a group of parent-teacher associations.

Three months later, the network was awarded a grant of £299,000 by the Cabinet Office for the Get In project, which never got off the ground and the funding for which has never been repaid.

The Cabinet Office has always claimed that it followed correct procedures in awarding the grant and that it was not subject to political interference. They said that the meeting at No 10 was to discuss increasing volunteering in schools more widely and there were several organisations present.

But investigations reveal that the Parent-Teacher Association UK (PTA-UK) said it was given the impression at the Downing Street meeting that funding was “virtually guaranteed” – three months before the grant was awarded.

Mr Bailey was a key Cameron aide in Downing Street at the time and his involvement in brokering the meeting would have been seen as a clear signal of the Prime Minister’s personal support for the Big Society Network.

Unusually, the meeting was also attended by Almudena Lara, head of the Cabinet Office’s Social Action Fund. At the time she would have had an important role scrutinising the network’s bid.

The meeting would appear to back suggestions made by a senior figure involved in the bid that political pressure was brought to bear to ensure the bid was successful.

A recent report by the National Audit Office revealed that the Social Action Fund had previously rejected an application from the network for Get In because it did not meet eligibility requirements.

The Cabinet Office then amended those requirements and asked the fund to reconsider the application. The bid was rejected a second time.The Cabinet Office then asked the BSN to submit a third bid which was finally approved.

Tim Partington, chair of the PTA-UK, said the organisation’s CEO and a senior manager had been invited to attend the meeting at No 10 on 31 January 2012 by Mr Bailey but were not informed what it was about.

“The meeting turned out to be a pitch by the Big Society Network to solicit support for the Get In project,” he said.

“The impression was given that the bid was virtually guaranteed success. The trustees of PTA-UK decided not to support the bid based on the information provided.”

Trustees of the Big Society Network are due to meet representatives of the Charity Commission today to discuss the on-going inquiries into the organisation that The Independent revealed last week.

The Network is facing allegations that it misused government funding and made inappropriate payments to its directors – including a Tory donor.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Teaching Assistants needed in Wigan

£12000 - £14400 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Are you an...

Biology Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Bristol: Biology Teacher for fixed term contrac...

LSA - HLTA in SEN - PRU

£60 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Luton: SECONDARY PRU / SEN / LSA experie...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments