Ethical Performance
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Senior staff pay at leading charities comes under scrutiny

September 2013

Pay guidelines will be issued to UK charities in the wake of revelations that some chief executives are receiving six-figure salaries.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations, which has 10,000 member bodies in England, will draw up the guidance advising charity trustees “how to go about determining senior staff remuneration”.

The guidelines, the first for charity sector pay, are expected to be published next spring.

Sir Stuart Etherington, the council’s chief executive, who is urging the Charity Commission to form a working party on pay, said: “The public are right to ask that their donations are spent effectively and efficiently.”

A UK national newspaper highlighted the salary levels in a survey that triggered reactions similar to the growing interest by private and corporate shareholders in the remuneration of the executives of companies in which they invest.

The survey revealed that 30 executives in those charities are now paid more than £100,000 ($156,000, €117,000) a year. Three years ago 19 were in this category.

The highest-paid chief executives listed in the survey included Sir Nick Young, who earned £184,000 last year at the British Red Cross, Justin Forsyth, a former UK Labour Party adviser, who receives £163,000 at Save the Children, and Dame Barbara Stocking, whose salary was £119,560 before she quit her post at Oxfam in February.

The investigation found 14 of the charities surveyed raised senior staff pay this year even though donations are falling.

Priti Patel, a Conservative MP participating in the research, said: “Hard-pressed taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent and will be shocked to see so many highly paid executives in charities that are dependent on public funds.

“This money should be focused on delivering front-line services rather than lining the pockets of unaccountable charity executives.”

The charities reply that their executives’ pay levels are below those in the corporate sector, but they justify large salaries by emphasising they too require the best people.

Christian Aid, defending Minghella’s salary level, said that through her financial background she “brings with her a huge amount of expertise, experience and passion for the cause”. 

UK & NI Ireland | Executive pay

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