Study praises Futurebuilders for building capacity and attracting new capital

Independent report calls programme a success and says it has invested effectively

Futurebuilders England logo
Futurebuilders England logo

An independent report into the Futurebuilders England programme has hailed it as a success in building capacity and bringing new capital into the third sector.

The study, Futurebuilders Evaluation: Final Report, was carried out by Sheffield Hallam University.

It assessed whether the programme, which gave out about £28m in grants and £127m in loans to help 375 organisations bid for public service delivery contracts, had increased the capacity of the voluntary and community sector to deliver public services.

The report says that Futurebuilders, which is run by Social Investment Business, had been effective at selecting appropriate organisations to invest in and focused the investment where organisations most needed it in order to grow.

It also found that Futurebuilders brought in capital to the social sector that otherwise would not have been invested, rather than displacing existing social investors, and had invested in organisations that otherwise could not have received capital.

It also found that the third sector had a low default rate when repaying loans - of about 3.3 per cent - and suggested that there was potential for the money from the fund to be recycled, potentially indefinitely.

But it said the investments had taken place during a period of prolonged growth in public spending, and that the success of loan funding would need to be reconsidered in a "more constrained environment" of public funding.

"As a model of social investment, Futurebuilders is found to be largely effective in investing in the third sector to increase its role in the delivery of public services," the report says.

The report came on the same day as the launch of Tory leader David Cameron's policy document for the community sector, Big Society, Not Big Government, at which he said he would redirect Futurebuilders income to help create a "neighbourhood army" of 5,000 community organisers.

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