A report by MPs condemns Kids Company Trustees led by Alan Yentob

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A report by The Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee into the Kids Company has strongly criticised the activities of the trustees. It also said that there were failings by Camila Batmanghelidjh and Government Ministers including Oliver Letwin.

The report, which was published today, was led by Bernard Jenkin, the Chairman of the committee. There was substantial criticism of Alan Yentob, the Chairman of the Trustees:

“Mr Yentob denied historic failures in financial management and insisted that there were no questions about the financial resilience of Kids Company until 2014. Given the charity’s historic hand-to mouth existence, its continual failure to build up reserves, significant periods on the brink of insolvency and its inability to meet its obligations to HMRC, this is an inaccurate and alarming interpretation. The evidence Mr Yentob gave to the Committee suggests a lack of proper attention to his duties as Chair of Trustees and a continuing inability to recognise those failures. With his fellow Trustees he was unwilling or unable to impose sufficient control. Together, they failed to exercise their proper function as Trustees.

Mr Yentob acknowledges his poor judgement in respect of his position at the BBC during the summer of 2015. His actions were unwise at best, and deliberately intimidating at worst. He has since resigned his main position at the BBC but he still retains substantial responsibilities within the organisation and oversees substantial budgets. It is not within the remit of this Committee to comment on the governance of the BBC, but the proper governance of conflicts of interest and standards of behaviour – particularly amongst its senior executives – is a very serious matter for any reputable organisation. That a senior figure could act in this way and it could take so long for action to be taken reflects poorly on the BBC’s leadership”.

Referring to the money spent by Government Ministers the report said:

“In neither his letter of direction nor his oral evidence has Mr Letwin provided convincing justification for his and Mr Hancock’s decision to ignore the comprehensive advice of senior officials, whose concerns Mr Letwin acknowledged as accurate and valid. This grant should not have been authorised contrary to advice”.

There are also criticism of some of the work conducted by the charity:

“Kids Company’s handling of an allegation about a very serious failure of safeguarding was inadequate and irresponsible. It is not appropriate for a known supporter of Kids Company to conduct a supposedly independent investigation, and that confidential information about an employee’s personal circumstances were used to assess her credibility, without transparency about where the information had come from, or permission being given for it to be shared. This represents a serious failure on the part of Trustees to ensure the existence and observance of appropriate processes for handling allegations relating to the safeguarding of vulnerable young people”.

Despite the failing of the Kids Company the report added:

“The failure and public criticisms of Kids Company must not be allowed to taint the whole charitable sector; we have no reason to doubt that the majority of Trustees and charities act responsibly and
in accordance with their charitable purposes”.