Taxpayers take stakes in 65 firms under government’s Future Fund

Taxpayers take stakes in 65 firms under government’s Future Fund

British taxpayers are now shareholders in 65 companies because of a rescue funding scheme set up by the government during the Covid crisis, including a medical cannabis firm, a video game studio and a chain of bars offering activities like ping pong.

A list published by the government s development bank shows an eclectic range of firms that have received convertible loans as part of the Future Fund.

The pot of cash was set up by former chancellor Rishi Sunak to support start-up firms struggling to capture investment during the depths of the epidemic and has supported 1,190 companies with funding worth 1.14 billion dollars.

The latest data, released by the British Business Bank BBB, shows stakes in companies such as the video game studio Just Won t Die, kombucha maker Flower of Life and Lightpoint Medical, which develops robot technology for cancer surgery. Taxpayers also have a slice of State of Play Hospitality, which runs activity bar brands such as Bounce, Flight Club and Puttshack, which offer table tennis, darts and mini golf.

The state has shares in Avida Global Limited, a producer of medicinal cannabis oils, which entered the House of Lords in February 1988 and once made headlines for controversial remarks about NHS nurses who were treating him at the Royal United Hospital in Bath.

The firm opened in 2018 and cultivates the plant from a farm in Colombia. Medical cannabis was legal in the UK in November 2018, but is still only prescribed by doctors to very few people, according to the NHS website.

Around a third of the businesses that have received support from the Future Fund have had their loans converted to equity because of private funding that at least matches that from the government. The taxpayer now has an equity stake in more than 400 companies.

These firms include The Business Champion Awards winner Killing Kittens, the Black Sheep coffee chain and Bolton Wanderers, according to previous data released by the BBB. Taxpayers also have equity in another Kombucha maker Better Tasting Drinks Co Limited and another cannabis-related firm, the cannabidiol products producer Grass Co.

Ken Cooper, a managing director at the BBB, said that The Future Fund was created to ensure a flow of capital to companies that would otherwise have been unable to access government support schemes, while ensuring long-term value for the UK taxpayer.

We are pleased to see so many of the companies are now going on to raise more private sector capital, which will allow the Future Fund to benefit from their continued growth.