By Tim Montgomerie
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The Sunday Times (£) reports that the Respublica think tank, established by Phillip Blond, is facing financial problems:
"Sources close to ResPublica, a limited company of which the Cambridge-educated Blond is sole director and owner, have revealed that it is in financial trouble with a raft of redundancies and staff being locked out of their offices last month because the rent had not been paid on time. The first set of unaudited accounts for the period July 2009 to October 2010 arrived at Companies House last week, more than a month overdue. The figures also show that Blond owes the company £38,609 after making payments to himself from its funds… Staff were locked out of its premises, in a block of managed offices three minutes from Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament, for what one source said was almost two weeks. A spokesman for Blond claimed it had been only “several days” and was the result of a technical bank account glitch while Blond was abroad, rather than a lack of funds in the account in question. It was sorted out, with the staff let back in, when Blond returned to Britain."
Earlier this week Mark Wallace of the Crash Bang Wallace blog had reported that a majority of Respublica's staff were at risk of losing their jobs.
Blond and Respublica have presented themselves as the champions of David Cameron's Big Society agenda but, in reality, only arrived on the political scene when Cameron's message was already well established. It has been the Centre for Social Justice and Policy Exchange that have – over many years – provided the meaty research for Conservative policies on schools, welfare and the voluntary sector.
10am Respublica issue the following statement:
"Today the Sunday Times has stated that Phillip Blond’s think-tank ResPublica is in financial trouble. This is simply not true.
ResPublica Policy Ltd, which runs the ResPublica think-tank remains a profitable company, which has just finalised their accounts for the previous year showing a healthy profit. A standard short version of the accounts has been submitted to Companies House in accordance with the Companies Act and is therefore available to any member of the public to view. A copy of these accounts was provided to the Sunday Times on Friday 3rd of June.
In its first year of trading ResPublica made a profit before tax and dividends of £79,520. In no way did it incur a loss, or run at a deficit to infer this from the Abbreviated Accounts is either an inability to read accounts, or an intentional misreading of the facts.
Even after tax the company retained a profit in its first period of trade, which is often a very difficult time. This is shown on the Balance Sheet (page 2) where the retained reserves are stated.
Since their launch in 2009 they have published a series of ground breaking reports, which have been well received in both academic and political circles. A significant number of their recommendations have been adopted by the Coalition Government including those on localism, increasing charitable giving and asset building for children.
Currently their Director Phillip Blond is in Australia talking to leading members of the Liberal Party including its leader Tony Abbott and later this summer he will be visiting America and talking to leading Republican figures.
They continue to attract significant sponsors and corporate donations and have a full programme of events and reports for the coming year, including three reports that we will publish later this month."