5 Aug 2015

Cameron ‘personally ordered’ payments to Kids Company

Dominic Cummings, the former adviser to Michael Gove when he was Education Secretary, has given me his full account of how David Cameron personally intervened three years ago to ensure the government carry on funding the controversial charity Kids Company.

This was despite advice from Gove and education officials that funding should stop, and came after the Kids Co founder Camila Batmanghelidjh made a personal appeal to the PM.

Cummings told me today: “Officials came to me and the private office, and said: ‘Here are our concerns.'”

“I had a look at them and discussed things with officials. It was clear that Kids Company should get no more money unless they radically changed their financial management.

“We went through it all with Michael who made the decision they would get no more money.”

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“She (Camila Batmanghelidjh) wrote to Cameron.

“Cameron’s office then told our Private Office that the Prime Minister personally ordered that the money be paid. He was worried about the media.”

“The money was sent.  This was in the period 2011-12.  It rumbled on.

“She knew No.10 would give the money, so Kids Company never got a grip.”

“In the second half of 2014 came the next round of funding.

“Officials tried again to stop it and Cameron again said ‘Give them the money.'”

“Camila went directly to Cameron and it was his decision to overrule officials.  That was why the funding went ahead.  If it had been just an official in No.10 we would have ignored them.”

“This is not an aberration – things like this happen every week in Whitehall because the system for taking decisions about taxpayers money is broken.”

Downing Street have denied Cummings’s account.  They say it does not represent how decisions are made in government.

11 reader comments

  1. Elizabeth Williams says:

    The current news about Kids Company only confirms the well known notion that smaller charities that are working hard, are being discriminated against . They forget that big charities started from somewhere. While the government is pouring millions of pounds on one charity, smaller charities like ours are struggling to survive. Dozens have closed down due to lack of funding from the government.
    Within three years our charity turned lives of hundreds of young people around; many of the young people brought from the streets are now responsible people in the society. Yet, we were unable to obtain any funding from the local government or any organisation. Couldn’t the millions poured on Kids Company be distributed among other charities rendering the same, if not better, services?

    1. Philip says:

      You are absolutely right, o course. regrettably we live in an age of media-driven mediocrity. Our fixation on celebrity and “larger than life” figures (cf Clarkson) means that the rules get twisted to get them what they want. I’ve worked with several charities whose continuous worry was funding, despite being well-managed & providing excellent, valuable services to their clients.
      What is your charity? I fear you lost an opportunity to mention it….and, as someone who tries to get even minimal media attention for the work I do, I’d advise you to take every opportunity. It sounds pushy – but I fear if the name of your charity isn’t known, others will fill that space. Best wishes.

    2. Alison says:

      I grew up in a unsettled home and was temporarily homeless when my mother’s flat was repossessed in my younger years. We were most definitely eligible for help from Kid’s Company. Yet we would never of thought to have gone to an organisation like that for help. I’m glad the wraparound support they provided to many young beneficiaries has made a positive difference to their lives. However, it does not detract from the fact Kids Company was ripe for exploitation by individuals who saw an opportunity to obtain cash for improper purposes.
      I cannot believe the charity received tens of millions of pounds and was unable to cover the cost of wages of staff in recent weeks. The fact that some members of staff hadn’t been paid for a couple of months says it all. If the funding they received from the Govt and public was inappropriately used, they should face full scrutiny and not be allowed to escape from hard questions in regard to their financial management.

  2. Thomas Quinton says:

    Hi Michael

    Great scoop and well done to Dominic Cummings for revealing this to the public.

    Camila’s poor grasp of finances is well known by people with any connection to Kids Company. I’ve heard she offers £10 notes and more to the kids all the time a pros pos nothing at all, giving a rather poor example to teenagers in desperate need of a good role model.

    I helped set up Youth Education Support Services over 10 years ago with a woman who had worked with Kids Company but had become completely disillusioned by Camila’s irresponsible behaviour. Although YESS isn’t fronted by a big personality who can draw in the politicians and big money, it does get by and should be credited with doing the real job Kids Company claims to do: helping troubled teenagers from some of South London’s neighbourhoods get their lives back on track.

    I am sure they would welcome you if you wanted to pay them a visit. I have no involvement with them any more, but they are a good, solid charity doing important work.


  3. Susan Galea says:

    Well, as a common or garden taxpayer that leaves me fully unenlightened! It’s pathetic that the lack of transparency and due diligence in terms of accountability enables this kind of worrying account to remain unchallenged. Dominic Cummings gives me many reasons to doubt him, but then so does the Prime Minister and his cohort. Were the books adequately scrutinised; was Cameron bestowing beneficence from on high because of his image worries or was he just genuinely convinced by the charismatic Ms Batmanghelidjh? I dunno.

  4. Hans Stolte says:

    Well lets look back on the 3 years of finances, every company MUST file returns and these are public, so no big deal, what the real picture?

  5. Jim Bachman says:

    And where is The Charity Commission? Was there a chartered accountant managing the finances? Who are the Trustees? Obviously petty cash got out of control.

  6. Tim Sanderson says:

    I think Mr Cameron possibly made a mistake – even a PM can do that from time to time.

    We should remember that he is also a bereaved parent, perhaps that had something to do with it. Very easy to use this against him. Too easy

  7. Mutumwa Munyaradzi says:

    Thank you Matt for grilling Alan Yentob tonight.More ugly allegations are inevitably going to come out.There is more than what meets the eye with this story.She had become way too powerful. .Spare a thought for the allegedly abused children.Does the government know more than they dare publish.We hear some things but the whole truth might be too damaging to tell.If just one child came to harm,that’s one too much.Camila has to accept this is over.She looks a desperate joke.Who would not shed a tear after a tap of millions has been turned off.Crocodile tears,ruining lives by creating dependency and vilifying groups of people,who really should be ashamed for lining up for free tenners and exposing their children to possible harm.People should wake up to the fact there is nothing for nothing,selling their children’s souls to the devil.Get jobs and be safe.

  8. garylester says:

    Typical Cameron willing to give away millions to a so called celebrity led charity whilst taking away millions from ordinary working class people through welfare cuts sanctioned by his mate next door.One rule for the rich one for the poor.Eton has a lot to answer for.From a non voter.

  9. anon says:

    not sure if the previous post went through?
    wouldn’t payments have to be agreed with the Chancellor as well? has he or any of his supporters featured in any of this, or just Cameron?
    hope the ‘big idea’ is not to help push Cameron towards exit, now that he has served his purpose as the front man, to make way for,,Osborne? surely not?

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