Charity Commission is not there to save failing charities, William Shawcross writes

In an article for the Financial Times today, the chair of the regulator says the buck stops with the trustees of charities such as Kids Company

William Shawcross
William Shawcross

It is not the job of the Charity Commission to save failing charities such as Kids Company, William Shawcross, chair of the regulator, says in a newspaper article today, and "the buck stops with trustees".

In a piece published in the Financial Times newspaper today, Shawcross says it seems to be a widely held assumption that it is the job of the commission to save failing organisations from collapse.

"But that is not so," he says. "Indeed, we are statutorily prohibited from acting in the administration of charities.

"Ultimately, and this bears repetition, trustees carry full legal responsibility for their charity – no matter how large it is, no matter how many senior executives it employs. The buck always stops with them."

His article comes after Sir Stephen Bubb, head of the charity chief executives body Acevo, issued a statement on Friday questioning why the commission did not act sooner in the Kids Company case.

Bubb reacted to the news that the commission had opened a statutory inquiry into Kids Company, by saying that earlier intervention from the regulator could have prevented a "fatal collapse of governance".

Asked if Shawcross’s comment piece had been written in response to Bubb’s comments, a spokesman for the regulator said it had not.

Shawcross had not seen Bubb’s remarks at the time of writing, the spokesman said.

Kids Company has continued to feature in the headlines over the weekend, and today’s Daily Mail newspaper reports that the Conservative Party received a £250,000 donation from the investment banker James Lupton – who has donated "significant sums" to Kids Company – on 19 June, 10 days before ministers overruled civil servants to order that the charity be given a £3m grant.

A spokesman for Matthew Hancock, minister for the Cabinet Office, said Hancock had never spoken to Lupton about Kids Company and was not aware of his involvement with the charity until after the decision about the grant was made.

The liquidation process is expected to recover £1.8m out of the £3m grant given by the government in the week before the charity closed, civil servants believe, reported the BBC.

The Sun newspaper claimed over the weekend that Kids Company paid £10,000 for an adult to have a sex change at a private hospital, with the approval of founder Camila Batmanghelidjh.

The Mail on Sunday ran the same story, and today’s Daily Mail reports that Batmanghelidjh used the charity’s nurse for her private medical treatments.

A spokesman for Batmanghelidjh told the Mail: "The total time spent was nominal and it was carried out on a voluntary basis."

Batmanghelidjh remains in contact with The Sunday Times, telling the paper she has appointed solicitors to prevent the government from identifying more than 3,000 illegal immigrants and asylum seekers who were on the charity’s books. The newspaper states that the records became the property of the Official Receiver last week.

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