Tuesday, 27 September 2011

A £300k contract

We mentioned an A4e company, "A4e Insight", first in November 2009. This "research and consultancy arm" of A4e had provided consultancy on two projects, money guidance and "train to gain", in which it had a large financial interest. In February 2010 we wrote about another Insight consultancy project in which it had provided "due diligence" research on a competitor training and skills company. This curious task of selling consultancy on things in which you have, or may soon have, a vested interest continued when, in February this year, A4e was named as a mentor to start-up public sector mutuals. Now we have a report of another contract for A4e Insight. It's getting £300,000 from the Office for Civil Society to investigate the effectiveness of social impact bonds in four pilot areas. (See the Third Sector website)
This is Big Society stuff, the OCS first describing the project in August this year. We were told then that "The OCS is not funding the projects, but has made up to £300,000 available to offer technical support to the councils in order to design the new tender documents." Is this the same £300k going to A4e? Mark Lovell has written enthusiastically about SIBs. Does this compromise the objectivity of the research?

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