Futurebuilders to review secrecy guidance

Funder will publish new policy on confidentiality and public money following criticism over Catz Club

Futurebuilders England has pledged to publish new guidance before Christmas on confidentiality and its use of public money.

The £215m Government-backed fund, which gives loans to charities trying to win public service delivery contracts, set aside £1.3m last year to cover "underperforming investments" to five organisations.

It declined to name the organisations on the grounds that they might not know they are underperforming and naming them might harm their future investment prospects.

However, Futurebuilders decided to review its policy after its grant and loan to after-school childcare charity Catz Club came under scrutiny.

The charity, which trades as Schoolfriend etc, was criticised by the Charity Commission for making an illegal donation to the Labour Party and is subject to an ongoing commission investigation over "internal financial controls and overdue accounts".

The charity had a confidentiality clause written into its termination agreement with Futurebuilders, but agreed with Futurebuilders in October to publish details.

Catz Club revealed it had borrowed £1.3m, repaid £282,740 in capital and interest and agreed with Futurebuilders to pay an immediate lump sum of £450,000 in place of an 11-year repayment schedule.

The Futurebuilders guidance is expected to cover one-off secrecy agreements such as this and whether non-payers should be named earlier.

Jonathan Lewis, chief executive of Futurebuilders, said the guidance would be significant. He added: "We are taking this issue seriously."

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