UK charities hit back at salary criticism after revelation that 30 bosses paid more than £100,000 a year

Charities commission claims disproportionate wages risk bringing 'the wider charitable world into disrepute'

Steve Anderson
Thursday 08 August 2013 14:50 BST
William Shawcross the Charity Commission's chairman who has warned that disproportionate salaries for charity executives risk bringing the wider charitable world into disrepute
William Shawcross the Charity Commission's chairman who has warned that disproportionate salaries for charity executives risk bringing the wider charitable world into disrepute

Charities have defended the salaries of their executives after revelations that 30 bosses are paid more than £100,000 per year led to warnings that they are bringing "the wider charitable world into disrepute".

The number of executives at charities connected with the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) – an umbrella organisation of humanitarian aid agencies – has risen from 19 in 2010 to its current figure, according to a report in The Telegraph.

Though William Shawcross, the chairman of the Charity Commission, said it is a matter for trustees to decide if wages are appropriate and fair to fundraisers, he did question the impact of such high salaries on the reputation of the charity world as a whole.

Mr Shawcross told The Telegraph: "It is not for the commission to tell charities how much they should pay their executives. That is a matter for their trustees.

"However, in these difficult times, when many charities are experiencing shortfalls, trustees should consider whether very high salaries are really appropriate, and fair to both the donors and the taxpayers who fund charities.

"Disproportionate salaries risk bringing organisations and the wider charitable world into disrepute."

The report also found that the number of DEC staff on salaries of more than £60,000 rose by 16 per cent to 192 between 2010 and 2012. Eleven of the 30 cases reportedly were on a higher wage than the Prime Minister's £142,500 per year for 2013.

DEC says it has run 62 appeals and raised more than £1.1 billion since launching in 1963.

The charities involved with DEC include Action Aid, Age International, British Red Cross, Cafod, Care International, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Plan UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision.

The British Red Cross said the salary of its chief executive is "far from a secret", adding that it was "fully committed to transparency and accountability".

The charity's chief executive Sir Nicholas Young is paid £184,000.

In a statement, the charity said: "The salary of our chief executive - which is set by the Board of Trustees, and benchmarked against, and competitive with, other non-profit organisations of similar complexity including other charities and local authorities - reflects the enormous responsibility the position carries."

In the financial year 2012/13, Oxfam said its chief executive was paid £119,560 - a figure the charity says is in "the lower quartile of what other large charities paid for their chief executives".

Mark Goldring was appointed chief executive of Oxfam in January of this year.

In a statement, Oxfam said: "We believe this is a fair reward for a job that involves long hours, large amounts of time away from family and overseeing a £360 million organisation that runs everything from a 700-branch national shop network to major emergency responses and long term development work to improve the lives of the poorest people on the planet.

"Our chief executive is also responsible for more than 5,000 staff and tens of thousands of volunteers."

Save the Children echoed that sentiment, saying the senior position takes "real leadership" and "talent".

In a statement, Save the Children said: "To run an organisation that reaches 10 million children in more than 50 countries, with thousands of staff, in some of the toughest places in the world takes real leadership, experience, knowledge and skill.

"Without this talent we would not, in the past five years, have almost doubled our income from £161 million to £284 million, enabling us to reach more of the neediest children on earth than at any point in our 90-year history.

"We wouldn't have been able to respond to 53 emergencies last year and 14 new emergency responses so far in 2013."

Save the Children chief executive Justin Forsyth is paid £163,000.

Christian Aid, which paid its chief executive Loretta Minghella £126,072 for 2012/13, said "staff must reflect a large variety of abilities and disciplines" for the organisation to run successfully.

The charity added: "People are employed at Christian Aid on the basis of the specific skills that they bring to their particular role."

The chief executive of Tearfund, Matthew Frost, receives a salary of £87,451.

A Cafod spokesperson also stressed that the pay received by its director was "much lower than any of his counterparts in the biggest NGOs" and has only risen in line with increases for other Cafod employees.

A spokesperson for the DEC said that levels of pay across the organisations were "broadly in line" with other charities, adding that the DEC plays no part in setting executive salaries at their member agencies.

“To ensure the most effective use of appeal funds, a balance must be struck between minimising overheads and ensuring a robust management system is in place.

“Good management of emergency responses in the UK allows our member agencies to deliver the planning, monitoring, accountability and transparency that this work requires and that the public rightly demands."

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