Hurd asks minister whether Futurebuilders is financing action plan

Shadow charities minister seeks to clarify sources of funding for £42.5m third sector action plan

Shadow charities minister Nick Hurd has tabled seven parliamentary questions about Futurebuilders England's budget to find out if it has been cut to help pay for the third sector action plan.

The Office of the Third Sector published the £42.5m plan last month to help charities through the recession. Officials said it would be funded from existing Whitehall budgets, including £7.5m from OTS programmes.

Sources told Third Sector that £30m had come from Futurebuilders, the £215m government fund that helps voluntary organisations to win public-service contracts. It had also received £9.5m to help run the action plan's key modernisation fund, the sources said.

An OTS spokesman said the action plan funding was "a combination of reprioritisation of a small amount of OTS funds and bringing forward efficiency savings across government to invest in the sector now". The OTS would not provide a "running commentary" on detailed figures, he said.

Gill Nunn, director of market development at Futurebuilders, said: "We are not losing any money that had previously been confirmed, and the Government remains committed to seeing the fund grow to £215m."

Hurd said a Futurebuilders source had also told him the fund was losing money. He hoped his questions to Cabinet Office minister Liam Byrne would provide clarification.

One of Hurd's questions seeks detailed accounts of Futurebuilders' budgets before and after the action plan. "With this government you have to check the small print," he said. "It seems it is robbing Peter to pay Paul without telling anyone about Peter."

Futurebuilders has given out £162m, mainly in loans, to more than 300 organisations. It is believed the OTS might have clawed back uncommitted funds from the end of its current 2008-2011 investment period for the action plan.

It was announced last week that Futurebuilders and Capacitybuilders, the non-departmental public body, will deliver the £16.5m modernisation fund in the form of grants for small organisations and loans for larger ones (Third Sector Online, 2 March).

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