Marie Stopes gives senior employee £200,000 bonus as overall income increases

08 Aug 2019 News

Marie Stopes International (MSI) has increased its income for a second year running, despite what it called the “chilling effect of regressive US policies”.

The charity previously said it would be left with a £60m funding gap due to the US government's “Global Gag” policy, which denies US federal funds to any organisation involved in providing abortion services or counselling women about them.

But according to the charity's accounts for the year to December 2018, the charity's income reached £296.8m, which is an increase of £700,000 on the £296.1m it reported in 2017.

Meanwhile, its overall expenditure decreased by 4 per cent to £289.1m from £300.9m.

Anti-choice groups ‘putting the lives of many women at risk’

In 2018, the charity provided 30.2m people with contraception and prevented 12.3m unintended pregnancies across 37 countries, despite the US government's policy.

The charity said in its accounts: “We were not immune to challenge and threat in 2018 as those opposing our mission, emboldened by the chilling effect of regressive US policies, sought to undermine our work.

"This was most notable in Kenya, Tanzania and Niger which suffered significant service interruptions due to political engagement by anti-choice groups, putting the lives of many women at risk.”

Nonetheless, the charity credited its “strategic” financial planning. “The financial year began with optimism that despite the loss of our significant USAID funding, we could still pursue our strategic targets through resilient financial results and delivering more for women with less. We achieved a small growth in total income to £296.8m from £296.1m,” it said.

Depreciating currencies overseas led to exchange losses of £2.6m in the year, “a smaller loss than 2017 when £6.5m of consolidation loss arose”.

It added: “In 2018 there was a small increase in service income, from £116.8m to £117.1m. However, foreign exchange fluctuations in the pound sterling depressed the growth underlying the reported numbers.”

Reaping the rewards

The organisation's highest paid member of staff, most likely chief executive Simon Cooke, received a 100 per cent bonus, doubling their £217,250 basic salary to a total remuneration of £434,500.  

Meanwhile, redundancies cost the charity £409,000 in 2018, which is an increase from 2017 (£320,000).
 
The charity said a move from direct service provision to an increased focus on public sector strengthening programmes, where MSI staff train government healthcare providers and build capacity within health systems, resulted in fewer directly employed staff in some countries. 
 
"The impact of the Global Gag Rule, which MSI refused to sign, saw the scaling back and consolidating of some programmes," the charity said.
 
It added: "Despite the funding changes and challenges faced, our clients, providers, and teams have refused to let these shifts be a barrier to access. Our programmes have improved productivity and have stretched limited resources ever further to keep clinics and outreach teams operating, as evidenced by our increased impact in 2018.”

The median salary of the chief executives at the largest 100 charities in the UK is £150,000, according to the latest survey from Charity Finance. 

A £434,500 figure would put the chief executive in the top five highest earners. Another staff member was recorded as having earned £250,001-£260,000, and the total paid to six key management personnel in 2018 was £1,266,000.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “Last year, over 30 million women and men worldwide were using contraception provided by us and we averted an estimated 6.4 million unsafe abortions – our highest annual impact to date.

"The CEO’s total remuneration package is set by the board of trustees, as part of their duty to ensure our organisation has the best leadership in place to deliver against ambitious targets.”

Article amended after incorrectly stating the charity had paid senior staff member £200m, not £200,000 bonus

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