The Charity Commission has said it is in contact with Kids Company following recent media reports over the charity’s funding position.
A joint BBC Newsnight and Buzzfeed investigation had revealed last week that the Cabinet Office would withhold £3m worth of funding from the charity unless its chief executive and founder Camila Batmanghelidjh (pictured) stepped down from the role.
She responded by saying she was being “blackmailed” and discredited by government because she had criticised current policies threatening the wellbeing of children. She revealed that she would step down as chief executive but hold more of a clinical role, as had always been her intention in the charity's 20th year - 2016.
The Charity Commission has revealed that it is “assessing” the charity in light of the recent media reports. It also revealed that the regulator had previously received a complaint about the charity, but its assessment concluded it did not warrant a formal investigation.
A Charity Commission spokeswoman said: “We are aware of media reports about the charity Keeping Kids Company [the name under which it is formally registered] and are in contact with the charity’s trustees to urgently assess its funding position and the impact issues reported in the media may have on the future of the charity.
“To note, we have, in the past, received a complaint about the charity which we assessed to determine whether it gave rise to any regulatory concerns. As part of our assessment, we met the charity’s trustees and CEO. Our assessment did not result in a formal investigation.”
Speaking on Friday evening’s BBC Newsnight, Batmanghelidjh clarified that she was still the charity’s chief executive, and that she would remain there until it is the right time for her to step down and that the charity would have to advertise and recruit her replacement.
Responding to a question from newsreader Emily Maitlis about whether it would be months before she stepped down, she said: “I think that is realistic. And there is nothing wrong with me being in the job. I have run with my team an incredible organisation. There are 36,000 children, young people and vulnerable adults using it. There are 650 staff, 500 clinical trainees, 100 external supervisors, a university course – it is a very sophisticated organisation and we have run it well.”
She described the comments from government which called for her to step down as “incredible double standards”, saying “on one hand the government regularly gives us grants, on the other hand they are criticising our accountability. Which way round is it? If you had problems with our accountability and our management, what are you doing giving us public money?”
Maitlis asked Batmanghelidjh if she would remain in her role as chief executive if the government went through with its threat to withhold funding.
Batmanghelidjh responded by saying: “I would then have to deal with the fact that the government is blackmailing a charity for no good reason. If we were engaged in any kind of malpractice, or we had poor practice, why has government given us money repeatedly? Most recently in April. Why suddenly this issue of me stepping down? What has changed from April until now?”
The Cabinet Office said on Friday that it would continue to work with Kids Company to “ensure its important work is sustainable”.
Kids Company had not responded to an invitation to comment on the Charity Commission’s statement at the time of publication.