Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society, has declined to reveal details about discussions between his department and the Prime Minister’s office before Cabinet Office ministers awarded £3m of funding to Kids Company despite concerns being expressed by senior civil servants.
A document published by the Cabinet Office in July showed that Oliver Letwin and Matthew Hancock, ministers in the Cabinet Office, decided to award £3m of funding to Kids Company despite warnings from Richard Heaton, permanent secretary to the Cabinet Office and first parliamentary counsel, that the charity was unlikely to meet the government’s conditions.
The charity closed just weeks later.
Lisa Nandy, the shadow minister for civil society, asked Wilson in written parliamentary questions to set out what discussions ministers in the Cabinet Office had with the Prime Minister and his special advisers before deciding to overrule Heaton’s advice on funding for Kids Company.
She also asked him whether the Secretary of State for Education or the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education had raised concerns about Kids Company with ministers in his department since May 2010.
In an answer provided on Friday, Wilson responded to both questions by saying: "To enable a space for the free and frank exchange of views, it is a long-standing convention that specific details about conversations between ministers are not normally disclosed.
"The decision to give Kids Company the additional £3m in July was made by Oliver Letwin and Matthew Hancock."
In another question, Nandy asked what payments were made to Kids Company each year since 2010 and what conditions were attached to such payments.
Wilson said central government had provided about £43m to Kids Company since 2005 and set out the amounts since 2010, which totalled £25.7m.
He said he was unable to comment on the conditions attached to payments managed by the Department for Education before the transfer of youth policy in 2013, and was also unable to comment on payments made by the previous Labour government, which was replaced by the coalition in 2010.
"For funding from 2013 to March 2015, Kids Company was required to meet a clear set of delivery targets," said Wilson.
"An independent third party was appointed by the Cabinet Office and the Department for Education to independently monitor and evaluate the grant and outcomes Kids Company were reporting.
"Since March 2015, funding agreements included conditions intended to encourage Kids Company to move to a more financially sustainable model."