Confusion and mismanagement were behind the Children’s
Society’s decision to pull out of Wales, MPs have concluded
after a four-hour question session with the charity’s
representatives, writes Alex Dobson.
The charity itself told the House of Commons Welsh affairs
select committee that devolution had been partly to blame for the
pull-out decision. The society’s finance director, Charles
Nall, said that ‘practical issues’ like devolution and
the cost of implementing the language policy in Wales had
contributed to the difficulties that the charity had encountered in
its work in the principality.
Martyn Jones MP, chairperson of the select committee is now
planning to write to the Charity Commissioner seeking a review of
the way the society handled the affair.
He said: “Essentially it is mismanagement that has caused the
society to pull out of Wales, and that was something that became
apparent from the answers that were given during the meeting.
“For instance, they conceded that they had made decisions based
on wrong information. They were unclear as to when certain projects
were actually ending, believing that some projects were to end some
18 months prior to the actual end date.
“It is not surprising that they were acting on incorrect
information however since they did not actually consult with anyone
in Wales before coming to the decision to withdraw from the 13
advocacy projects across Wales. It became clear during the meeting
that they took the easy option to cut Wales off.”
Asked why there had been a complete failure to consult with
anyone in Wales prior to the decision to cut services, the
chairperson of the society Lady Toulson, told the select committee
that she had been brought in to make a decision on cost savings,
not to carry out a consultation process.
Following the grave financial situation facing the society, she
said that the cuts were the ‘only option’ because she
said the charity’s work in England could
‘implode’ if savings were not made.
A Children’s Society spokesperson said: “We are pleased
that the Welsh affairs select committee took an interest in this
matter, which is of great importance. What we really need to do now
is to find a way forward so that services can be transferred to
other organisations whoever they may be, so that children and young
people can have their continuity of service maintained.”