The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee on Friday released a report into the government funding of collapsed charity Kids Company.
It doesn’t hold back, concluding: “This situation must never occur again.”
London-based children’s charity Kids Company collapsed in August, after allegations that finances were being mismanaged led to the government withdrawing a £3 million ($US4.5 million) grant.
It has been under investigation ever since, with some explosive allegations and revelations about just how the charity operated.
On Thursday, Business Insider published allegations from a former Kids Company employee, which included the accusation that the charity spent “over £700,000 ($US1 million) was spent at a Harley Street clinic treating the wife of man known as ‘Tony the Driver’ who worked for Kids Company.”
The brutal new report from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee accuses the government of failing to scrutinise Kids Company and its boss Camilla Batmanghelidjh sufficiently and, as a result, giving the charity too much money, too frequently, for too long.
The report begins: “It is staggering that the government has given over £40 million ($US60.89 million) to Kids Company over the past 13 years and still has no idea what it was getting for taxpayers’ money.”
Other accusations made by the cross-party committee include that the huge amounts of funding given to Kids Company effectively amounted to negligence towards other charities throughout Britain. Here’s the report:
We object to the obvious unfairness of central government directly funding a charity which operated in only two London boroughs for most of its existence, with around £4 million ($US6 million) a year, at the expense of other charities and young people across the country.
The report came to seven scathing conclusions about the way Kids Company was handled by successive governments:
- By treating Kids Company as a special case the government missed opportunities to help other children.
- There was insufficient scrutiny of what Kids Company was delivering for taxpayers’ money.
- Government ignored Kids Company’s serious cashflow problems and failure to make itself financially sustainable and continued to fund the charity to keep it afloat.
- Accounting officers across government failed to stand up to ministers.
- Funding decisions were not based on evidence nor did they follow due process. Kids Company lobbied government for funding over many years.
- It is particularly alarming that the Department carried on handing over money for years despite there never being a model that could be replicated across the country.
- The government failed to learn lessons from Kids Company until the end.
The Public Affairs Committee didn’t just spend its whole time laying into the government, though, and made several recommendations on the back of the collapse.
The committee has called for a “fundamental review” of the way grants are given to charities, in order to make sure they are spread “fairly” and “equitably”. Amongst the recommendations are the creation of a “register of grants” to charities so that it is easy to see how much each charity is getting. The report also calls for improvements in the way the performance of charities is measured.
According to the BBC, a spokesman for the government said that it will “consider the recommendations” of the committee, adding: “The welfare of the young people continues to be our primary concern and we are now working closely with local authorities to make sure they have access to the services they require.”
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