ACF wins Futurebuilders contract

Futurebuilders England has lost its bid to deliver the second phase of the Government's Futurebuilders loan fund. Community lender the Adventure Capital Fund has won the tender, the Cabinet Office announced on Monday.

Richard Gutch, chief executive at Futurebuilders, said he was “very shocked and disappointed” that the organisation lost the tender.

“My two priorities are to try to do the best I can for staff in trying to support their future and to support investees and applicants,” he said

Gutch said that the future for staff at the organisation was unclear, and he could not rule out redundancies. “It is possible but I just do not know,” he said.

ACF, which last year announced a radical expansion programme to increase its potential investments tenfold, will now be responsible for investing £65m of government funds. This is on top of the £150m already made available to the Futurebuilders Fund. The contract will start on 1 April and run until 31 March 2011.

Jonathan Lewis, chief executive of the Adventure Capital Fund, said he was delighted to win the bid. “Futurebuilders is a great, very exciting and very important project and we put an awful lot of effort into the tender so we are very pleased to have won,” he said.

“We need to meet the staff as quickly as we can to talk to them about what ACF winning the tender means. These people have been running Futurebuilders very well for three years and we have an obligation at a number of levels to talk to them first, before we say anything.”

The Cabinet Office has assured current investees that third sector organisations that have applications in the pipeline will not be affected.

“The second phase of Futurebuilders will bring new challenges for the fund manager, but ACF has demonstrated great ability and enthusiasm to take on this challenge,” said Phil Hope, Minister for the Third Sector. “I have no doubt that they will build on the success of the programme to date and also on the ground-breaking work undertaken by Futurebuilders England in the first phase.”

Hope added that there would be an “orderly and well-managed transition” to the new fund manager and that the programme would not be adversely affected by the change.

According to the Cabinet Office, the broader scope of the second phase of the Futurebuilders programme was a recommendation of the Futurebuilders Advisory Panel annual report published in March 2007.

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