Big Lottery Fund won't pay final part of grant to Society Network Foundation project

The grant-maker found that Britain's Personal Best was 'significantly behind in its projected outcomes' and will not give the last quarter of a £1m grant to SNF, based at Somerset House in London

Somerset House
Somerset House

The Big Lottery Fund will not pay the final quarter of a £1m grant awarded to a Society Network Foundation project called Britain’s Personal Best, after the grant-maker found the initiative was "significantly behind in its projected outcomes".

So far, £766,042 of the £997,960 has been paid to the foundation, a spokeswoman for the BLF said.

The BPB project was awarded the funding in May 2013 as one of four charitable initiatives building on the legacy of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The one-year project, which included the Britain’s Personal Best Weekend in October 2013, was designed as "a new annual mass-participation event that promotes in a unique new way personal accomplishment, group interaction, volunteering and charitable fundraising", according to the SNF.

But the project did not run to plan, the BLF said. "In part of the Big Lottery Fund’s monitoring process, it became apparent that the project was significantly behind in its projected outcomes," said the BLF spokeswoman. "As a result, we carried out a review of the award and have withdrawn the grant."

She said that because there was "no indication that the money has been misspent", the BLF would not be attempting to reclaim it. The SNF, she said, had "fully complied with the Big Lottery Fund’s assessment procedures".

SNF is the charitable arm of the Big Society Network, which was launched by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, in 2010 to "support and develop talent, innovation and enterprise to deliver social impact".

In February, the Charity Commission said it would scrutinise the accounts of the SNF because of an apparent transfer of restricted funds to unrestricted funds, relating to an Office for Civil Society grant for the now cancelled children’s fitness project Get In. The charity denied any wrongdoing and welcomed the commission’s action.

The commission’s case remained open, a spokeswoman for the regulator said.

Any attempt to visit the Britain’s Personal Best website, whatsyours.org, returns a blank page.

The BLF's decision to fund Britain's Personal Best was criticised by Gareth Thomas, the former shadow charities minister, who questioned the BSN's ability to deliver publicly funded initiatives, citing the decision by the Cabinet Office to halt funding for Get In. 

Steve Moore, chief executive of BSN, told Third Sector last year that he did not accept that BSN had failed to deliver on past projects and denied suggestions made in the media that the proper process was not followed in the allocation of the BLF grant to Britain's Personal Best.

He said that the organisation went through a rigorous three-month due diligence process with the BLF before receiving the funds, and denied that it received any favourable treatment.

The Big Society Network did not respond to several requests for comment before publication of this story.

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