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Taskforce chair backs Charlesworth to stay on as member

Taskforce chair backs Charlesworth to stay on as member
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Taskforce chair backs Charlesworth to stay on as member

Finance | Tania Mason | 13 Aug 2008

The chair of the joint DWP-acevo welfare-to-work taskforce has rebutted an approach by the Shaw Trust to replace its ousted chief executive Ian Charlesworth with another of its directors on the panel.

Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of Groundwork UK and chair of the taskforce since its inception in June, confirmed that the Shaw Trust nominated Stuart Knowles, its director of employment, to replace Charlesworth on the taskforce in the wake of his removal as chief executive of the Trust last week.

Hawkhead said he “had no problem with that”, but because all taskforce members were appointed on a personal basis, he felt strongly that Charlesworth (pictured) still had a role to play and so wrote to the Shaw Trust explaining that Knowles was not needed.

When he told his fellow taskforce members this at their meeting yesterday, they were “very pleased”, he said.

Acevo demands reinstatement

Support for Charlesworth has been building among his peers in the sector since his removal from office last week, with acevo even going so far as to issue a public edict demanding the charity reinstate him immediately.

In the strongly-worded statement, acevo chief executive Stephen Bubb said he had “always regarded Ian as being one of our sector’s top chief executives” and that his treatment by Shaw Trust trustees was “unacceptable”.

He said he had spoken to Charlesworth and assured him of acevo’s full support. “I have seen how his leadership has grown that organisation to become one of the most professional and hard-hitting third sector organisations.”

Dispute over future direction

Yet in the statement, Acevo gave no hint of why Charlesworth was no longer in the job or what was at the root of the dispute between him and the charity. Nothing more is known publicly beyond a memo issued last week by the Trust’s founder and director general Tim Pape to its staff, which said: “This is to let you know that Ian Charlesworth will shortly be leaving the Trust’s employment. With effect from today, he is on gardening leave.”

However, the dispute is believed to have stemmed from a disagreement between Charlesworth and the trustees over the future direction of the charity.

‘Business as usual’

In acevo’s statement, the organisation said it understood that the employee forum at the Trust had since passed a vote of no confidence in Pape and the trustees – a charge which has been denied by the Trust’s head of policy and communications Catherine A’Bear.

A’Bear told Charity News Alert that Pape had been the Trust’s most senior executive for the last 19 years, and that it was “business as usual” at the charity right now.

acevo said it had urged the Charity Commission to investigate the circumstances surrounding Charlesworth’s removal, but the Commission said it had not yet received any official communication from acevo.

The Shaw Trust delivers welfare-to-work programmes and derives more than 95 per cent of its income from over 600 government contracts. It is currently in the midst of a tender round for Flexible New Deal contracts.

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