Former Nesta trustee says it was 'forced' to fund Big Society Network projects

Liam Black, who was a trustee before the organisation became a charity, tweets that it was a 'scandalous waste of money'


Nesta has attempted to play down claims that it was "forced" to provide funding for projects operated by the Big Society Network.

The Cabinet Office and the Big Lottery Fund were this week criticised by the National Audit Office for their management of grants totalling more than £2m awarded to the Big Society Network and the Society Network Foundation, its charitable arm.

Liam Black, who was a trustee of the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts in 2010 when it awarded two grants totalling £480,000 to the Big Society Network, said on Twitter yesterday that the organisation was "forced to provide to provide funding for the Big Society Network". "Scandalous waste of money," he tweeted.

Nesta was a non-departmental public body until the end of March 2012, when it became the independent charity Nesta. Black was a trustee of the organisation from December 2008 until it became a charity.

Nesta awarded £80,000 of funding in August 2010 to the Big Society Network for its Your Local Budget project, and a further £400,000 to the organisation in December 2010 to run various projects.

A statement issued by Nesta today said: "The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, which was a non-departmental public body, awarded two grants to Big Society Network.

"Since becoming an independent charity in March 2012, no funding has been made to the projects (or organisations running them) highlighted in the National Audit Office report. 

"Nesta was approached for grant funding for the Your Square Mile, Get In and Britain’s Personal Best projects and decided not to fund them.

"It has always been the role of our board of trustees to preserve our independence and the grants to Big Society Network were approved by our trustees."

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