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Kids Company closure hits councils

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Local authorities in London and Bristol are putting contingency plans in place following the closure of children’s charity Kids Company.

The charity, which closed yesterday following financial problems, ran 11 street-level centres in London and Bristol, an outreach project in Liverpool and worked with more than 40 schools in London and Bristol.

Only a few of the projects were run under contracts with local authorities, but councils and schools used some other services provided by the charity. Additionally children who used the charity’s other services may now need support from elsewhere.

Kids Company’s headquarters and one of its largest projects are in Southwark, south London.

A spokeswoman for Southwark LBC said: “We have been in discussions with the Department for Education and other local authorities, preparing for the closure of Kids Company.

“Although Southwark doesn’t refer any children to the charity, some will have sought out their services. We are ready to support any vulnerable children and young people in the borough who are affected by the closure of Kids Company.”

The charity had a contract to run an adventure playground and One O’Clock Club for Lambeth LBC which was worth £193,000 over three years.

A spokesman for the council said Lambeth would re-open these services “as soon as possible” and were making parents and children aware of alternative facilities nearby.

He said the council had already written to the schools where Kids Company provided an after-hours kids’ clubs and was “helping to ensure” the clubs would resume after the summer holidays “with a new provider if necessary”.

Kids Company also had a contract with Bristol City Council to provide education to 40 pupils who could not be taught in mainstream schools. A council spokesman said a handover was already being prepared as the charity’s contract had been due to end this month.

He added: “The council has guaranteed that there will be no lapse in service for any pupil.”

Although the council only had one contract with Kids Company, the charity also had other services in the city which were used by local children.

Bristol council said it was talking to other local organisations about what alternatives could be provided and was spending a “few thousand pounds” on providing a “skeleton service” to replace The Island drop-in service for the next fortnight.

A spokesman said the service served around 40 young people with “high-end” needs and the skeleton service would “signpost” them to other support services.

The council also said it was relying on Kids Company to supply it with details of children who used the charity’s services and might need alternatives.

The charity has been mired in controversy in recent weeks with government officials alleging the charity had been financially mismanaged.

Kids Company is also being investigated by the Metropolitan Police’s child abuse Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command. The charity said it was not aware of any abuse allegations and its priority was the safety of the children it helps.

A statement from the charity, which has been in existence for 19 years, said previous levels of funding “did not materialise” this year and as a result the charity had planned to restructure.

“It sought funds to restructure from government and a group of philanthropic donors, but as a result of serious as yet unsubstantiated allegations against the charity, it was unable to meet its ongoing liabilities,” the statement said.

The charity’s “See the Child, Change the System”, campaign pressed for an overhaul of children’s services because it said overstretched departments were denying social care to some neglected children.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Whether mal-practice is discovered or not the government will not be able to conceal the root causes of the troubles - cuts to local government and to benefits.

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