Remember the Big Society Network? Here's what's happening with that

Oliver Wright@oliver_wright
Saturday 26 July 2014 11:30

David Cameron’s flagship Big Society Network is being investigated by the Charity Commission over allegations that it misused government funding and made inappropriate payments to its directors – including a Tory donor.

Here's an examination of what Big Society projects promised - and what they delivered.

Your Square Mile

Your Square Mile's purpose was to encourage and enable local people to improve their community. It was awarded £830,000 by the Big Lottery Fund – despite officials assessing the application as “weak” in three out of the six criteria.

What happened: In February 2012 the project had attracted just 64 signed-up groups compared with the one million predicted in the funding application.

Get In

Get In aimed to tackle childhood obesity through sport. In April 2012 it was awarded a grant of £299,800 from the Cabinet Office despite officials concluding it was unlikely to meet its stated objectives. They were told to change their selection criteria and approve the grant.

What happened: The project was never even launched.

Britain’s Personal Best

Britain’s Personal Best, which aimed to build on the Olympic Games by encouraging people to excel in athletic, educational or creative challenges. Given £997,960 in April 2013 by the Big Lottery Fund, it claimed it would sign up 120,000 people to take on challenges in their community.

What happened: It was wound up within months after failing to meet all the milestones the Big Lottery Fund had set.


A long running investigation by Civil Society News into Big Society Network funding has also discovered that the organisation was given statutory grants totalling £480,000 in 2010 by Nesta – which was then an arms-length body of the Department of Business – without a competitive pitch being held.

About £150,000 was to part-finance the core costs of running the organisation in its early stages and £330,000 was to support four projects – called Nexters, Spring, Your Local Budget and It’s Our Community.

What happened: Only Nexters is still going.

More: Read Oliver Wright's full report.