Chief executive's bonus cut after income falls at MSI Reproductive Choices

02 Aug 2021 News

MSI Reproductive Choices (MSI) slashed the annual bonus paid to its chief executive last year.

Simon Cooke received £18,000 on top of his salary in 2020, compared with bonuses worth £124,000 in 2019 and £217,000 in 2018.

The Charity Commission had previously ordered the MSI board to review the way it decided on bonus pay for senior staff.

Information on the latest payment was included in the charity’s financial accounts for the year ending 31 December 2020, filed with Companies House last week. 

The accounts show that MSI raised £294m in 2020, down £14m from the year before.

Reduced bonus

Cooke is paid just over £225,000 a year. The 2020 performance-related bonus brought his total pay to £244,669.

This is a substantial reduction on the previous two years, when bonuses boosted Cooke’s total pay to £347,176 and £434,500 respectively.

Large bonuses are unusual in the charity sector, and in December 2019 the Charity Commission issued MSI’s trustees with formal advice, which required them to “review the factors it takes into account when making decisions about the chief executive’s remuneration”.

Helen Stephenson, the chief executive of the Commission, said at the time that the regulator expected “decisions of this nature to be made carefully, mindfully, and in way that ultimately serves the charity’s beneficiaries into the future and demonstrates their special status as a charity”.

An MSI spokesperson told Civil Society News: “A proportion of our chief executive’s salary is dependent on achieving certain objectives, and while MSI’s teams did remarkably well to continue services throughout the pandemic we did not achieve our growth targets overall, which impacted his remuneration.”

Income and spending dropped 

The accounts show that MSI’s income dropped from £308m in 2019 to £294m in 2020, a fall of £14m or around 4.5%.

Income from donations rose, but the value of grants from institutional donors fell by around £8m, as a result of a stronger pound on exchange markets and because of “reduced activity under Covid-19 affecting performance-related grant income”.

Total expenditure also dropped, from £301m to £286m.

Staff numbers and safeguarding

The accounts show that the total number of staff employed at MSI, calculated as a monthly average, fell by more than 800 in 2020 to 9,476.

MSI said: “As a charity we must respond to reductions in our donor income or risk the future of our operations.

“The 8% reduction in staff numbers was due to a number of factors, some relating to the end of projects and funding cycles, and others due to the financial impact of the pandemic.”

The accounts said that the charity investigated 42 safeguarding allegations during the year.  MSI's spokesperson confirmed that these investigations led to MSI dismissing four members of staff and formally disciplining 11 more employees.

They said: “Being accountable is one of MSI’s values, and speaking up is part of our culture. 

“In all our operations globally, any concerns regarding safeguarding or other incidents that make team members feel uncomfortable can be confidentially reported in person, via telephone or online.”

MSI unveiled a new, five-year strategy last November, including rebranding from its former name, Marie Stopes International.

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