THE future of an outdoor centre near Winchester hangs in the balance after a charity involved in delivering a government scheme has gone into administration.

Marwell Outdoor Activity Centre has been forced to make seven people redundant and has not been paid £40,000 for delivering the National Citizenship Scheme (NCS).

The family-run business which has been going for 40 years was due to be paid the sum in October, but last week the company were angered to find that The Challenge, who owe the money, has appointed an administrator.

The Challenge has been heavily involved in delivering NCS since it was launched by the government in 2010.

For the last three years Marwell Outdoor Activity Centre has been welcoming around 300 children a week in the summer to take part in the scheme.

Owner Digby Cooper said: “We have lost out on £40,000; it has decimated us, we are a small family business.

“We are going to struggle. This is a major part of our survival. We are the small fish in this... didn’t think in a million years we would be in this position.”

Following the announcement Mr Cooper has had discussions with NCS chief executive Michael Lynas who confirmed that the trust would not be paying

“I am starring into the abyss, I’ve pushed away schools tens of thousands of other business.

“I did that [the scheme] for three years with them and we’ve just been spat out at the end not being paid and told to go fend for yourself.”

The centre is looking at a massive shortfall of hundreds of thousands of pounds for next year with another organisation, Invasion, working with NCS pulling its reservation around the same time.

“We were holding 1,000 beds right up to two weeks ago, they then pulled the rest of my provision which I was holding for them. I can’t fill 1,000 beds near December 1, all my beds are booked a year in advance.”

The business have not been given a reason as to why the reservation was cancelled.

Mr Cooper is calling for an investigation to be carried out over the “mismanagement of government funds” and a plan to stop this happening again.

He added: “We need to know where this money has gone. My gripe is that the NCS trust need to be responsible for their service providers.”

The Challenge entered administration following five months of talks with the NCS to resolve certain significant issues.

Bill Roland, The Challenge chairman, said: “The decision to appoint an administrator was not taken lightly, but after every possible avenue had been exhausted. We made this difficult decision with great sadness and considerable anger at the manner in which The Challenge has been forced into it.”

And an NCS spokesperson said: “We have a great deal of sympathy with Marwell Activity Centre for the position it is in. However, it needs to take the matter up with the appointed administrator of The Challenge because the contract for the services Marwell delivered is with The Challenge and not with NCS Trust.”

“NCS Trust has paid all the money it owed to The Challenge but The Challenge has not paid Marwell Activity Centre.

They added: “It would be inappropriate for NCS Trust to use further taxpayers’ money to pay Marwell when that money has already, in effect, been paid.”

“NCS Trust has seen correspondence between Invasion and Marwell Activity Centre. Invasion took Marwell Activity Centre to the second stage of contracting. This meant Invasion requested information about what Marwell could offer, but it appears no places were promised at this point.”