I take this report seriously. I am satisfied that the issues raised concerned adherence to process, and therefore do not feel that there are any implications for the policies of my Department.
First, I welcome the Minister to his place. When it seems pretty clear that the National Audit Office had some pretty damning conclusions regarding the mismanagement of over £2 million of public money to the Big Society Network, and when, in my own constituency, the SWEET project, which got a big society award, ends up having money cut by the Government because it does precisely the innovation work that it got the award for in the first place, what exactly, in this day and age, does the big society mean? While he is at it, will the Minister look into the circumstances surrounding the cuts to the SWEET project?
I shall certainly look into that matter, as the hon. Gentleman has asked. We welcome the NAO’s report and have learned the lessons from this experience. There are no conclusions that the Cabinet Office did anything untoward in this regard. All the report says is that we did not adhere to the guidance we issued for this particular programme on a couple of points.
None of us could let that go. Thanks to the National Audit Office’s report, we now know that the Government’s big society lies in tatters. We have since learned that the charity the Prime Minister personally launched at No. 10 Downing street is not only under investigation by the Charity Commission, but is under investigation for moving Cabinet Office funding to its parent company, which is chaired by a major Conservative party donor who also earned hefty consultancy fees from it. Was the Cabinet Secretary aware that Government funding was being transferred not to the thousands of legitimate charities in this country, but to the bank account of a Conservative party donor?