David Cameron defends £3m Kids Company grant

Supporters rallied in support of the Kids Company after the charity's closure. Picture: PA
Supporters rallied in support of the Kids Company after the charity's closure. Picture: PA
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PRIME Minister David Cameron has defended the Government’s decision to grant £3 million to Kids Company, insisting it was right to give the charity “one last chance”.

Mr Cameron said the funds were offered in an attempt to restructure the charity to ensure it continued providing its “excellent” work.

He said: “Sadly that didn’t happen, not least because of the allegations that were made and private donors withdrawing their money.

“But I think the government was right to say let’s have one last go at trying to keep this charity going given the excellent work it has done for so many young people.”

Mr Cameron added the most important thing was to ensure the children helped by Kids Company are now looked after.

The Prime Minister made the comments as supporters of the charity marched to Downing Street to campaign against the charity’s closure.

A recent investigation heard allegations that staff knew of complaints from girls, then aged 16 to 18, that male clients of Kids Company in their 20s had been forcing them to have sex and commit sexual acts. Two witnesses alleged that complaints had been made known to relevant members of staff at the Urban Academy in Southwark.

But Kids Company founder Camilla Batmanghelidjh said police had brought the allegation to the charity’s attention recently and it would have “absolutely dealt with it very robustly” if it had emerged before then.

The allegations of sexual abuse were blamed by the charity for the loss of a donation which could have helped secure its future and Ms Batmanghelidjh said it had been “very irresponsible” to release the information.

She also denied an allegation that she had advised a staff member not to press charges after he was attacked by a young client with a snooker ball at The Arches II centre in south London.

The perpetrator is serving a prison sentence for murder.

Ms Batmanghelidjh did accept it was “irresponsible” not to have reserves at the charity to make up for any shortfall in donations.

The government was forced to hold crisis talks to draw up emergency plans to provide support for children following the sudden closure of the charity, which operated in London, Bristol and Liverpool.

Up to 36,000 vulnerable children and young people received help from Kids Company, and there are fears many could slip through the net unless immediate plans are put in place to continue services.

Labour has called for the National Audit Office to investigate the flow of taxpayer money to Kids Company.

Meanwhile Ms Batmanghelidj has defended her role in the collapsed charity amid allegations of sexual abuse, violence and drug taking involving young people in its care.

She also rejected claims of financial mismanagement at the charity, which was forced to close its doors this week after funding ran out.

Ms Batmanghelidj said: “We had a fantastic deal on the table, with the government putting money in, with the philanthropists putting money in.

“The minute the government money hit our account, suddenly out of the blue came these allegations of sexual abuse about which we knew nothing and within an hour or so it was all over the news and we still didn’t know what these allegations were at that point.”