Fraud accounts for 40% of all crime across the UK, and the Cabinet Office estimates that fraud and error cost the public purse up to £51.8 billion every year – and the Coronavirus pandemic added an element of urgency on funding mechanisms for speedy solutions and increased innovation. A dangerous combination. 

Yet, in response it seems that government schemes were drawn up “on the hoof”, weeks after the first case of coronavirus was detected in the UK.

This included the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS), the coronavirus large business interruption loan scheme (CLBILS), the bounceback scheme, the business-led innovation initiative run by Innovate UK (previously investigated by The Future Shapers) and the Future Fund.

The economic strategy was of necessity rushed and reactive, initially a one-size-fits-all response that left (and continues to this day) to leave whole sectors of the economy behind.  One sector that was initially not targeted was the high growth potential of start-ups and in responding to the initial gap in the schemes,  the UK government designed The Future Fund. This attempted to address the immediate funding challenge that the UK’s innovative, equity-backed companies faced due to COVID-19. The scheme, alongside other Government support schemes, aimed to support companies facing financing difficulties due to the Coronavirus outbreak. The Future Fund scheme was delivered by the British Business Bank.

But, as one might expect for a programme that was designed to operate at speed, the eligibility criteria turned into a box ticking exercise on behalf of the accessors, to such an extent that the rationale for a government using public funds to take an equity stake seems decoupled from common sense and ran contrary to existing government policy in other departments.

That is, unless the prospect of the government owning a slice of an organiser of upmarket sex parties, for example, is one of the more surprising side-effects of the covid-19 pandemic.

The Future Shapers investigated this claim, it was entitled: Are sex parties and crypto mortgage lending platforms the future? It was subsequently published on the TFS website here on 18 August, 2021. 

It wasn’t just one off high profile cases, that caught the attention but seemingly hundreds of instances ranging from low cost airlines in India with no flights, travel companies, buy-to-let crowd purchasing schemes, weird pay per drive tyre manufacturers,  and crypto backed payday loans to only scratch the surface getting funds in a seemingly contradictory manner to wider government policy. 

Before publishing this piece TFS circulated it with representatives of the UK Government’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Department. Up to the date of publication, no comments were yet received. Following the publication of the story, another attempt was made to get responses but at the time of publishing, no additional comments were received. 

TFS commits to fully disclose and publish all responses received in relation to the publication of this story and will update this page with the relevant information as and when appropriate. 

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