Charity Commission severance payments exceed salary savings by £1m

09 Jul 2013 News

The Charity Commission has agreed just over £4.3m in voluntary redundancy packages to 129 people since January 2011, while saving £3.3m on its wage bill over the same period.

William Shawcross, chair of the Charity Commission. Image by Fergus Burnett.

The Charity Commission has agreed just over £4.3m in voluntary redundancy packages to 129 people since January 2011, while saving £3.3m on its wage bill over the same period.

One of those severance payments was in the range £150,000-200,000; three were between £100,000 and £150,000, and 26 ex-employees pocketed payments of between £50,000 and £100,000.

Meanwhile, according to its latest annual report and accounts published today, the Commission’s salaries bill - not including social security and other pension costs - during the same two-year period from January 2011 to 31 March 2013, fell from £13.8m to £10.5m.

Its staff numbers fell from 405 full-time employees in 2011 to 337 in 2012 and 305 this year – and the proportion of women, disabled people and ethnic minority employees within the workforce have all shrunk slightly.

Fifteen individuals opted for voluntary severance in the year to 31 March 2013.

Ongoing budget cuts

The annual report and accounts for the year to 31 March 2013 reveals how the Commission coped with a 3 per cent cut in its funding settlement compared with the previous year, to £26m (£29.3m in 2011), and how it has braced itself for a further 13 per cent drop in 2013/14, to £22.6m.

A surplus of £400,000 was recorded for the year, thanks mainly to not spending as much as expected on the London office move to new premises half the size of the old office. This slightly exceeds last year’s surplus of £340,000.

New chair William Shawcross (pictured) was paid a maximum of £25,000 for his two days a week since 1 October 2012 – less than the maximum £35,000 that his predecessor Dame Suzi Leather earned for her three days a week from 1 March until 30 September.

Unlike in 2012, CEO Sam Younger did not get a pay rise this year – his salary remained flat within the band £130,000 to £135,000.

The Commission improved its cost-efficiency during the year, reducing its running costs per £1,000 of charities’ income to 43p from 47p the year before.

It incurred costs of £5.5m during the year for “specialist services”, mainly attributable to one-off charges for externally-hosted IT services.

Gift aid claims review programme

In non-financial matters, the annual report also reveals that the Charity Commission has begun a programme of inspecting the accounts of charities which it suspects might have been operating in a similar way to the Cup Trust.

In particular, it is examining whether the accounts of those charities make reference to funds being raised primarily through claims for gift aid.

Late accounts media campaign

The Commission also continued its crusade against late filing of annual returns and accounts, after 15 per cent of charities were late filing their accounts (16 per cent last year).  It measured whether late filers had a history of such offending, and discovered that late submission of accounts is indeed rather habitual.

In a bid to persuade more charities to submit their documents before the deadline, the regulator carried out a local press campaign telling papers and radio stations across England and Wales how to check whether charities in their area had filed on time. “Many journalists used this information to inform their readers about publicly-funded local charities that defaulted on their annual information,” the report said.

Internal whistleblower

One employee made a whistleblowing disclosure to management on 26 March 2013, complaining about a perceived failure by the Commission to investigate a case in which the individual had a concern about case handling.

The internal whistleblowing policy was applied by the line manager and a meeting held with the employee to discuss their concerns. However, the complaint was not upheld and “the member of staff was content with this outcome”, the report said.

Other figures show that the Commission:

  • received 171,628 phone calls, emails and letters to its First Contact team during the year, 93 per cent of which were resolved at that stage.  Complaints against charities were the second most common issues raised in emails and letters, behind amendments to governing documents.
  • received 5,949  new charity applications and registered 4,714 new charities, compared with 5,601 last year and 5,776 the year before. Some 36 applications were rejected. Education and training was once again the most popular type of new charity registered.
  • received 596 Serious Incident Reports and 98 whistleblowing reports.
  • closed five statutory inquiries (2012: nine), opened 15 (2012: 12), and used its statutory powers on 74 occasions during statutory inquiries.
  • monitored 1,908 sets of accounts, 1,065 of which were reviewed randomly.


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