Accusations of Preferential Treatment in DWP Funding Contest
Published by Graham Tomlin for Credit Union Solutions Ltd in Central Government and also in Communities, Education, Health, Housing, Local Government
Earlier this year at Aston Villa football ground the DWP outlined the details of a project designed to increase credit union membership in the UK by at least a million over the next two years.
£35M was to be made available, they said, to bids by consortia of credit unions with an existing membership of at least 120,000. The conditions for bids was the establishment of “back office” support for credit unions as well as cloud based software and increased speed of decision making around loans. The DWP emphasised the need for bids to be comprehensive, supported by accountants and legal advisers but above all else bids had to be in on time because decisions were to be made in January 2013.
It was well known that the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd. (ABCUL) had ambitions to establish a back office after their Officers came forward with the suggestion at their Business Planning session in Cork in 2003. By then my own mini back office had been operating for 3 years thereby giving the ABCUL Board the justification to expel me for a conflict of interest. 9 years later and still no ABCUL back office but more expulsions as Marlene Shiels the representative on the World Council of Credit Unions had the temerity to commission software which would be shared with another credit union.
So come the time for bids to the DWP to be submitted and only two staggered over the finish line, the Dot Community Syndicate and the City Save Syndicate.
The ABCUL bid was nowhere to be seen. Even with a grant of £300k from Barclays to match £300k from their own deep pockets with which to construct their bid they could not get it in on time.
It was made perfectly clear at Aston Villa that if your bid was late it would be excluded from consideration yet ABCUL did not get their bid in on time and were allowed more time to do so.
This makes a farce of the tendering process and puts the DWP into a bit of a problem especially if ABCUL ends up getting the lion’s share of funding.
ABCUL are already leaching credit unions with other trade associations being the beneficiary. My guess is that being part of a trade association that is too close to the least trusted brand in the UK in Barclays (Which report November) will not endear them to co-operators up and down the country.
It seems to me that if either the City Save or Dot Community consortia get less than £12m each from the DWP in 2013 they are sure to cry foul and seek answers to some very difficult questions.