Kids Company: Questions for the Trustees to Answer

(This is the text of my latest Opinion column first published in the Brighton Argus on 13th August 2015)

The closure of Kids Company has taken many people by surprise. How could this charity fail when it enjoyed political patronage at the highest levels of government, loved by the media, and which had philanthropic and celebrity support by the bucket load.

Stories are emerging about questionable use of cash, of a chauffeur-driven car for the chief executive, of private boarding school fees being paid for the child of an employee.

But it wasn’t such excesses, questionable though they are, that caused the collapse.

A well-governed charity should not find itself in such a crisis, closing its doors with less than 48 hours notice meaning it was impossible to put alternative supports in place for their vulnerable beneficiaries.

Against the advice of civil servants, very senior politicians authorised emergency bailouts of, initially, £4 million, then just a week before it closed, a further £3 million.

Questions must be asked of the Trustees of the charity about their control over the ‘inspirational’ former chief executive. What legal and financial advice did they receive before they accepted the second tranche of £3 million of public funds? Had they satisfied themselves that Kids Company was financially viable?

Were the Trustees of the Kids Company actually in control? How much of a free hand did they Trustees give the CEO?

But I imagine the question the Trustees will actually be asking themselves will be about their personal liabilities if it is shown that they were not fulfilling their legal duties as charity trustees.



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