Futurebuilders defends applications plans

A war of words has broken out between Futurebuilders England and the NCVO over the funder's pledge to speed up the processing of loan applications.

Speaking at a conference on public service delivery at the Commonwealth Club in Westminster last Thursday, Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, warned that in pledging to process applications more quickly under the new regime Futurebuilders could create a “sub-prime market in the voluntary sector”.

However, Jonathan Lewis, who was appointed chief executive of Futurebuilders when the Adventure Capital Fund took over the £215m government fund on 1 April, rejected the claim. He said the organisation would be making better decisions than under the previous regime.

Etherington said in his speech: “Futurebuilders England would appear to have focused significant attention to the speed money can be dispensed. It is a distinct possibility that it will loan money to organisations that will not be able to repay it.”

He added that the Office of the Third Sector would need to keep a close eye on the situation.

Lewis, who spoke after Etherington, said: “Stuart asserted that our approach would lead to bad decisions. The fact is that of the £215m fund, £120m has already been spent, leaving us with £95m, so we will be giving out the money more slowly. If anything, our decisions should get better, not worse.

“Among our targets there is not one against disbursing the money quickly.”

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