Cabinet Office unable to spot grant programme discrepancies due to poor record-keeping, says NAO

The Cabinet Office does not maintain a detailed database for grant programmes, so has no way to identify if discrepancies have occurred in the last five years, a National Audit Office (NAO) report revealed today.  


By Sarah.Aston

28 Nov 2014

The NAO’s ‘Follow-up: grants to the Big Society Network and the Society Network Foundation’ report said: “The only comprehensive record of grant payments held by the Cabinet Office is its finance system and it has not maintained a database of wider information such as the process through which grants were awarded."

Today’s report follows findings released in July that the Cabinet Office had broken its own grant guidelines over grants to the Society Network Foundation and the British Sports Trust in April 2012.

The Cabinet Office had awarded funding to the Social Network Foundation’s Get It project after the closing date for applications and had asked the Social Investment Business to reconsider four other bids.

The department also solicited and approved a joint bid from the British Sports Trust and the Society Network Foundation without establishing a lead organisation and as a result issued two separate grants, “which was contrary to the Cabinet Office’s own guidelines”.

The NAO launched an investigation “to investigate whether these issues were isolated or there are wider systemic problems.”

Today’s report concluded that there was no “evidence of systemic issues” but noted the Cabinet Office had no way of identifying recurring problems due to the lack of a central database: “It was unable to identify within the report’s timescale whether it had changed criteria partway through competition for any other grant programmes.”

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “This government is committed to backing and providing funding for organisations which encourage people to volunteer and use their talents to help others.

We welcome the NAO’s report today which finds no evidence of any systemic issues with our programmes.”

The Cabinet Office did not comment on the NAO’s findings on storing grant information.


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