Kids Company's exposure is over. Now for the remedies.
First, the Big Society stunt must be buried, six foot deep under a concrete slab warning that is should never be aroused from its disgraced grave. The good in KC was destroyed by the suffocating hug of patronage of the Big Society. KC became a subsidy junkie, a Mother Bountiful handing out cash, questionable psychiatry, cuddles and psychobabble to kids who were troubled and kids that were not. "No-one was turned away' was their rule.The model of care was impractical, unproven, unworkable and concentrated on a small number of children on the basis of volume of satisfaction to be gained by Mother Bountiful.
Children's lives were damaged by KC's demands of a third of the budget that should have been distributed among 18 charities on the basis on the proven value of their work. In spite of serious reservations by ministers and civil servants, cash was given to JC by direct Prime Ministerial intervention and diversion of cash from Education Ministers' control into the PM's Cabinet Office's slush fund. Two culpable ministers who defied a letter of direction from civil servants should be referred to the Adviser on Ministerial Conduct for an investigation into their suitability to remain in office.
I had serious misgivings about the final version of the report of the Select Committee and I did not vote for it. My criticism was muffled deliberately to avoid the issue becoming a row between committee members. The over0riding need was to ensure that the committee's strong denunciation of the waste, extravagance and delusions of the KC folly should be understood. I believe that we should have broken the taboo by which PMs are not called to give evidence to select committees. David Cameron encouraged and financed KC using unprecedented and unorthodox devices. He should have been challenged to explain. The buck stopped with him. Political timidity inhibited the committee.
Among the submissions we recieved one former client of many years convincingly explained why the KC model could never work.
"The Kids Company model doesn’t work. It can’t work, because it’s a model of care that is essentially built on a lie – a promise of family and love that can’t possibly ever be truly fulfilled by professionals. So it’s a model that in the long run actually does a great deal more harm than good. It encourages dependence, it holds people in a childlike state and when relationships fail, as they inevitably do having been built on such unrealistic expectations, they cause twice the damage than they would have done had they merely been built on professional / client terms. The giving of money encouraged dependence".
KC's patronage from royalty, politicians and the show business world built up a formidable reputation of quality work. Undermining that was largely due to the work of journalists Miles Goslett, Harriet Sergeant, Newsnight and the evidence of some dis-illusioned donors. This was British journalism at its bravest and best. Many good people generously donated and the contributions of many of the 600 workers and volunteers was of value. The committee was a little harsh in our condemnation of all trustees. The criticism of Alan Yentob was justified. Other trustees were often unaware of the problems. Some had vainly tried to correct them. My conviction was that Alan Yentob had erred by using his senior position in the BBC to influence the coverage of the story. He should be subjected to a full investigation and not be allowed to gain absolution by resignation with a deal he which he gave up one of the three jobs he had with the BBC.
There was fear that Ms Batmanghelidjh would use her communication skills to regain public sympathy through the BBC documentary shown on the 3rd February. The programme did not attempt to analyse the charges against KC in any systematic way. It was episodic, impressionistic and failed to dig below the surface into the chaos. All that was shown on the Select Committee was a three second flash when the Chairman's voice bawled out for silence. Equally brief was the scene when angry clients were demanding their money. It was luck not art that salvaged the programme. The relationship between the interviewer and Ms Batmanghelidjh soured throught the weeks of filming. The all-loving Earth Mother morphed into a manipulative controller seeking to conceal inconvenient truths. The final impression in the viewers' minds was similar to the conclusions reached by all members of the Select Committee.
Miles Goslett concludes on the BBC film.
"Alleway’s unsatisfactory account should not cloud the hard work done last summer by print journalists and the BBC’s Newsnight programme in uncovering the truth about Kids Company. Nor should people think that it is an end of the Kids Company story. The Charity Commission is deep into its own investigation into Batmanghelidjh, Yentob, and how they ran the organisation, and I am also working on a new story about Kids Company.
I believe the worst is yet to come."