Councils review almost 2,000 former Kids Company cases

Collapsed charity received larger grants than any of its peers despite longstanding concerns over finances, National Audit Office reveals

Local authorities have been assessing the cases of around 1,900 children affected by the collapse of Kids Company, the National Audit Office has revealed.

In a report published today, the spending watchdog also said that Kids Company, which mainly supported children and families in inner city areas of London and Bristol, had received larger grants than any other charities from the Department for Education.

The figure of 1,900 children is well below the number the charity claimed it supported. Before its closure, chief executive Camila Batmanghelidjh said it was helping 36,000 children and young people in London, Bristol and Liverpool.

Kids Company’s main centre worked with children in Southwark and Lambeth, south London, and the Financial Times has reported that 299 of its cases were passed to Southwark council. Of these, 68 had been “considered in need of support from children’s social care”, and 33 were already known to the council.

Bristol council told the FT that it had been passed the records of 28 young people aged under 18 after the announcement that Kids Company was closing.

The National Audit Office report also said that:

  • Kids Company had received at least £46 million of public funding, including £42 million in central government grants.
  • It had not had to compete for its annual grant since 2013. After it failed to win grants through competition, the Department for Education made a public interest case for the charity’s funding to continue outside this process.
  • Until 2013, the government “relied heavily” on Kids Company’s self-assessment to monitor its performance.
  • After the Cabinet Office took responsibility for youth policy from July 2013 it “adopted a more systematic approach to overseeing Kids Company”, and in June 2015 it advised ministers that a further grant to the charity “did not represent value for money”, as Kids Company had not met earlier grant conditions and its future cashflow was uncertain.
  • Officials had raised concerns about Kids Company to government as far back as 2002.
  • The government continued to fund Kids Company even though it never accepted the charity’s assertion that it provided statutory services and should therefore be funded on a statutory basis.

Kids Company ceased operating on 5 August, closing 11 centres and a Liverpool outreach project, and stopping its work with more than 40 schools, because it was unable to pay its debts.

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