Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Critics; part 2.





Radio 4's Today Programme is a national treasure. I love listening before I head off for work. And even better, I love appearing as I did yesterday.

One of the highlights is the “Thought for the Day “slot. So I was dead chuffed to discover as I listened that I was the subject of this morning's Thought.

Canon Angela Tilby from my old college Christ Church at Oxford had picked up on my use of a biblical quotation in my interview yesterday. “A labourer is worthy of his hire" I had said. So being the good cleric she is she had unearthed the 2 uses of this phrase in the New Testament. She used them very effectively against my arguments on pay. I have to admit she put a cogent and reasoned case. It was nice to hear this contentious issue addressed in a logical and reasoned way. I was deeply flattered! She made a good case.

This is more than can be said for rabid reporting in today's Telegraph and Mail. The Telegraph's deathless reportage has uncovered the fact that 31 years ago the good people of Clapham had elected me to the Council. The problem was it was for the Labour interest and that's enough for a "reds under the bed" story to stir the appetites, and ulcers, of some Telegraph readers. Amusing for my friends to see the pro competition Bubb (denounced recently by Len McCluskie no less) portrayed as a rabid leftie. And the Mail managed to drag up from the archives a deeply unflattering photo of me without a tie. Shocking when I am always regaled in the most gorgeous ties. Still, if you lift your head above the parapets on matters of contention you must expect the odd tomato! So, all good fun.

And so let me reproduce the comment piece I have sent to the Telegraph.

As the Bible says, "a labourer is worthy of his hire". This is as true in the charity world as it is in the public and private sectors. Leading a top national or international charity, employing thousands of staff and turning over millions of pounds a year, is complex and difficult work. At a time when the sector’s income is falling as demand for its work increases, charities need experienced, highly skilled professionals capable of delivering the best results with the resources available to them. The days when major charities could be run by well-meaning amateurs are long-gone.

For context, the average charity CEO is paid £58,000, which is significantly lower than the pay of senior civil servants or council leaders, let alone leaders in the private sector. The head of Oxfam, one of the world’s biggest and most effective charities, is paid less than half the salary of the CEO of Wandsworth Council.  Mr Shawcross wonders whether potential donors will be put off by rates of pay among charity leaders, but the donors I hear from want to know that their money is going to effective, well-led charities capable of using it wisely. So when trustees come to recruit for the CEO job, they want to attract the very best available professionals, balancing the need to attract the top talent with the countless other calls on charities’ funds. In my experience they do so professionally and properly.

I was very surprised to read Priti Patel MP’s claims on the subject of public funding. The government does not donate to charities- it pays for contracts to deliver services, and demands high standards of delivery in return. That's what charities provide, thanks to outstanding professional leadership. What really matters to charities, supporters and funders are the results they deliver for the beneficiaries and causes that they serve. We should therefore judge CEO salaries against the outcomes they achieve. Trustees are looking to hire chief executives who can make a real difference, and the salaries offered reflect the importance and demanding nature of the role. It’s a simple case of supply and demand.

A final point: the Charity Commission pays Mr Shawcross a higher pro rata salary than that of the average charity CEO. Presumably they wanted to get a good person to do the job. Should charities not do the same?”

7 comments:

stone100 said...

What planet are you on? I have asked a lot of people whether they can think of a justification for charity bosses taking >£100k as pay rather than leaving more to fund aid for charity recipients. EVERYONE I have asked is sickened by this. What do you want so much money for? Every comfort and convenience can be afforded by much less than that. That level of money is simply a case of one-upmanship. Is it really appropriate for charity bosses to want all that extra money so as to appear way above the vast bulk of people here in the UK let alone the world?

MIke-A said...

I agree totally with stone100.

You really are in some form of parallel universe. I for one will continue to refuse to donate to charities who pay excessive salaries to staff. In fact I have a spreadsheet by my front door summarising the top bands of pay for the main charities. And when I decline to donate and then show the list to the "tin shaker" I often get looks of sudden realisation. Yes they are being exploited as volunteers by charities that pay 100k plus to CEOs. Oh and BTW I read the Guardian not the Telegraph.

stone100 said...

Bubb, that fact that you don't welcome a light being shone on charity CEO pay shows that in your heart of hearts you realize that it is shameful.

Jim Brown said...

Where's the offending post gone Sir Stephen? 'Shawcross Brings Sector into Disrepute'

Can we have an explanation please?

That's if you ever bother to read the comments of course.

directeconomicdemocracy said...

I just googled about this and saw the Telegraph piece about your Birthday. I have to stress that I don't like that article and I also value the work that charities do. I passionately believe however that high pay for charity executives is very wrong. I have paid a direct debit to Oxfam since 1995 and this week was torn by the dilemma that not canceling it could be taken as a tacit approval for pay excess. On balance I decided to keep up the payments and instead express my revulsion at excessive pay (that is funded unwittingly by donors such as myself). What disgusts me most is that poverty charity (and left wing politicians) should WANT to align themselves and mingle with a plutocratic over-class rather than being content to live the (perfectly comfortable) lifestyle of ordinary people in our (by world standards) extremely affluent country. To me professionalism is all about taking pride and responsibility in your work. Taking responsibility for a whole organisation's success or failure and not passing the buck. That has nothing to do with taking wodges of charity money as personal pay. You can have a professional attitude and drive a modest car, live in a modest home and appear down very at heel alongside the "CEO class" of bankers or tobacco executives or whatever and feel proud of having not taken too much from the charity's coffers.

drapetomania said...

You really are sick with money mate why don't you have a word with yourself and try and understand why people are rightly disgusted with your bad attitude. No shame no gain?

Craig said...

How ironic that the charity sector pay structure for their executives highlights the increasing difference between the rich and the poor in the most appalling way. I personally have cancelled my donations to several of the multi national charities I would advise others to do likewise a financial shock to their income may just bring them back to the real world. My donations are gone and they will not return because I cannot condone a mindset in such organisations that has placed them in a position of paying vastly inflated salaries to their executives, this practise is both foolish and unsustainable and quite frankly given that they are charities it is immoral.