Social Investment Business spent £115k on Acevo services over three years

Social Investment Business spent £115k on Acevo services over three years
Civil Society, by Tania Mason

The Social Investment Business, which is chaired by Sir Stephen Bubb, bought £115,000 worth of services from Acevo, where Sir Stephen is chief executive, during the last three years, its accounts show.

The services comprised conference sponsorship, policy and research support, contributions for administrative support to Sir Stephen and, for three months, a seconded staff member.

Most of the services were purchased during 2011 and 2012 (£53,078 and £49,462 respectively), with transactions in the year to 31 March 2013 totalling £13,340, much of which related to work carried out by Sir Stephen’s personal assistant.

A SIB spokeswoman said the drop from the previous year was due to less being spent in the areas listed, and the secondment having ended.

Related party transactions

The amounts are listed under ‘related party transactions’ in the last three years’ accounts, the latest of which have just been published.

A number of SIB board members declared transactions with connected organisations. RNIB chair Kevin Carey, a SIB board member, was also a consultant for a community interest company called AT Care. In 2010 SIB approved a loan to AT Care for £300,000. In June 2011 AT Care called in the liquidators. On 1 February this year the full value of the loan was written off.
Fred Worth is a member of both the SIB board and the board of Adventure Capital Fund (ACF), its parent charity. He is also a trustee of Mencap which received loans in 2010 from the Futurebuilders Fund and the Modernisation Fund, both run by SIB. The balances on these loans at the end of March 2013 were just under £2m, and £225,000 respectively.

Mencap was awarded £604,000 from the Social Action Fund, also administered by SIB, in 2012 and 2013.

Edward Lord is a member of the ACF and SIB boards. He is also a non-executive director at Local Partnerships LLP, which is jointly owned by HM Treasury and the Local Government Association. During 2012 SIB paid £145,000 to Local Partnerships LLP to deliver part of the Social Enterprise Investment Fund contract.

Hugh Rolo is a member of the ACF board. He is also business development director at Locality. Local development trust Tiger 11 is a member of Locality and received a loan of £300,000 from ACF in 2009. Now, with interest accrued over the years, the outstanding balance is £349,233.

The SIB spokeswoman told that Tiger 11 continues to operate and SIB is in ongoing conversations with it about repayment of the loan.

Anne Longfield was a member of the SIB board until she resigned on 31 December 2011. She was also chief executive of 4Children. In 2009 Futurebuilders England – which later became part of SIB – issued a £500,000 loan to 4Children. The balance outstanding at the end of March 2012 was £343,736.

SIB declined to say how much was still outstanding on this loan, as Longfield is no longer a member of the SIB board and so transactions with 4Children are no longer considered to be with a related party. “We therefore have no reason to declare the outstanding balance of the investment.”

Board remuneration

Between them the board members were paid £36,000 over the last financial year, with Sir Stephen Bubb receiving £11,857 for his chairmanship. The board meets five times a year.

SIB posted a loss of £400,000 for the year to March 2013, but this was largely attributable to timings of income and expenditure on the Investment and Contract Readiness Fund.  Excluding the effects of this, SIB made a profit of £1.3m, though this was due mainly to receiving a £1.3m grant from its parent charity, the Adventure Capital Fund.

‘Government fund manager of choice’

SIB states that its mission is to bring more money into the voluntary sector and to have a “transformative effect” on the sector.  One of its priorities is to position itself as the “government fund manager of choice”. Earlier this year it secured the fund management contracts for the Futurebuilders and Modernisation Funds from the Cabinet Office for three more years.

In March, SIB came in for criticism for awarding a £200,000 Social Action Fund grant to Big Society Network/Society Network Foundation despite it not meeting several of the published grant criteria. SIB also failed to include the grant on the published list of successful applicants until the error was pointed out.