Charity Bank prepares bid to manage Futurebuilders fund

Charity Bank has confirmed that it is one of five organisations to have expressed an interest in bidding against Futurebuilders England to run the remaining £65m of the Government's Futurebuilders loan fund.

The bank, one of the four founding members of Futurebuilders England, announced last month that it would withdraw as a member in order to relieve pressure on resources.

But it emerged this week that the bank has undergone the first stage of the tendering process to run the Futurebuilders fund, which involved filling in a pre-qualification questionnaire from the Office of the Third Sector.

Jim Gilbourne, deputy chief executive of Charity Bank, told Third Sector: "We are reviewing the situation, and this will be discussed further at our board meeting later this month."

Earlier this year, Charity Bank embarked on a major expansion programme that involved the launch of a new office in the north of England. It plans to double in size over the next five years (Third Sector, 20 June).

Five other organisations, including Futurebuilders England itself, have also returned questionnaires to the Government. The second stage of the application process, in which the OTS will set up a 'dialogue' with interested parties, is due to begin at the end of this month. The Government has stated it would like to make the appointment by January. The contract runs from April 2008 until March 2011.

The Northern Rock Foundation, another founding member of Futurebuilders, told Third Sector it would stand firm in its support of the fund despite the crisis at its parent body, mortgage lender Northern Rock bank.

Fiona Ellis, director of the foundation and vice-chair of Futurebuilders, said she had already written to Richard Gutch, chief executive of the fund, to reassure him. She said: "Providing we are here, we will be with Futurebuilders. I see no reason why we should not be here."

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