'I'm not spending like drunken sailor,' says charities chief

Lottery/ costs spiral
Click to follow
The Independent Online
HOW tight should a tight ship be? Timothy Hornsby, chief executive of the National Lottery Charities Board, under fire last week for its spending on administration, says his is "perfectly tight". Yet the board expects to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds more on admin than Mr Hornsby first admitted.

A former senior civil servant, Mr Hornsby claimed last week that the quango, set up to distribute lottery cash to deserving causes, expected to spend "between £3m and £4.8m" on running and start-up costs in the six months from April to October.

But according to an internal document it actually expects to spend £5.2m in that period, excluding VAT at 17.5 per cent.

The true figure emerged during an interview with Mr Hornsby when he showed the Independent on Sunday a document showing the breakdown of the money spent since last August. The figures included the projected costs.

An apparently embarrassed Mr Hornsby said: "The figure must have been revised since I made the speech."

The internal document also revealed that the board's "profiled" spend to the end of the year is £9.6m. Asked to explain this sum, Mr Hornsby said: "Without an army of accountants this is very difficult. But the phrase 'profiled' is the amount forecast before one-off costs are stripped out."

The revelation will heighten concern that the Charities Board is over- spending on administration and start-up costs when it should be maximising the money it can distribute to charity.

But although Mr Hornsby denied he was, in his own words, "spending money like a drunken sailor" he could not explain exactly where the millions would be spent.

A breakdown of the board's expenses between September and March reveals that a total of £1,001,300 went on nine items: office expenses (£38,658); the building (£56,616); public relations (£110,155); board member expenses (£37,012); staff and recruitment (£294,777); consultants (£302,635); capital equipment (£41,497), VAT ( £93,992) and other (£25,958).

Mr Hornsby said most of those figures would swell in the six months to October. Extra costs would include printing application packs, trebling the floorspace of the central London headquarters, taking on extra staff, training assessors, and establishing offices in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

He insisted: "We are running a perfectly tight show. It will be made clear in the annual accounts. The level at which our expenditure is running is relatively modest. No one running an operation the size of this one can expect to do it for less than £5m or £6m."

However, it is clear that a substantial proportion of the money to run the quango is going to private consultancy firms. The design firm Ideology was paid £3,000 for the creating the Charities Board logo. The Barclay Partnership was paid £160,000 - representing 160 hours work by three consultants - for advice on computer requirements. Coopers and Lybrand have also been paid an unknown sum for systems consultancy work which is not yet finished.

The board has also spent an estimated £100,000 on buying and reconfiguring the Riverside computer system which will be used to administer the first phase of grants, but which will be unable to cope in the long term. As a result the board intends to buy a second computer system after further consultancy advice. The board has £80m in its kitty and expects to have £150m to spend by the end of the year.

Comments