Its not too difficult when trawling through newspapers and online magazines to find comments by (mostly Conservative) MPs and (Conservative Party supporter) William Shawcross, the Chairman of the Charity Commission which criticise the level of pay which charities award to their senior leaders. One of the most vociferous MPs on this subject is Priti Patel who is now the International Development Minister who back in August 2013 carried out some ‘research’ which the newspapers published on the extent to which a small number of Charity CEOs were being paid more than £100,000. My blog on that story is here. More recently Ms Patel once again spoke out on the same theme pointing out that charities rely on the generosity of donors and funding organisations for their finances and they should not abuse the trust placed on them by such people by overpaying their staff. Of course Ms Patel who receives her pay from the public purse and Mr Shawcross who receives his pay from the public purse have been more than happy to award themselves increased salaries over recent years. Mr Shawcross began his work for the charity commission on a full time equivalent of £125,000 even though he joined in with the criticism on the same basis as Ms Patel.
The good news for both Patel and Shawcross is that in the latest survey of pay to CEOs of charities, the data has shown a £5,000 decrease in the median pay of such men and women down to £50,000 from £55,000 the year before. This means that although there are still some earning in excess of £100,000, that there are many others earning much less than the median figure. Perhaps Ms Patel and Mr Shawcross can now be persuaded to speak out on this news and for once give the charity sector credit for its good use of public money, rather than criticising it for the action of a small number of exceptional cases. According to William Shawcross’s own figures there are over 165,277 charities in the UK and 132,750 of these have an annual income of less than £100,000 so either have no paid staff or pay their staff team as a whole a great deal less than £100,000 taking into account the other expenses of running their charity. This leaves less than 20% of charities with a turnover above £100,000. The role of William Shawcross is surely to speak out about the good practice he is aware of as well as commenting on what he considers to be poor practice. The same should surely be true of all Government Ministers?