Salary of Consumers’ Association chief falls to £462,000

The end of a controversial incentive plan meant Peter Vicary-Smith’s earnings fell by 15 per cent, say the latest accounts, but his basic pay rose and he received a £44k compensatory payment

The chief executive of the Consumers’ Association, the charity behind the Which? publications and brand, saw his salary fall by 15 per cent last year when a controversial bonus scheme came to an end.

The charity’s accounts for the year to 30 June 2017, which were published at Companies House this week, show that Peter Vicary-Smith’s pay fell from £490,000 in 2015/16 to £462,000 last year.

A long-term incentive plan bonus that earned Vicary-Smith an additional £125,000 on top of his basic salary in the 2015/16 financial year had been discontinued.

The LTIP was introduced to incentivise senior management to deliver long-term growth across Which?’s commercial business and meant that six-figure bonuses were paid to members of Which?’s executive team.

But the LTIP scheme was scrapped earlier this year after a review of executive remuneration within the organisation and a number of years of controversy about pay at the organisation.

A Third Sector investigation last year showed bonuses worth a total of £2.24m were set aside by the organisation in the year to 30 June 2016.

The latest accounts show that Vicary-Smith received a payment of £44,000 as compensation for the closure of the LTIP.

They reveal that Vicary-Smith’s basic pay rose to £241,000 from £235,000 in the previous year, and he received a bonus of £98,000, compared with £54,000 the previous year.

He also receieved a pension allowance of £27,000, benefits-in-kind of £17,000 and allowances of £38,000, but had to repay £1,000 of LTIP, according to the accounts.

The accounts say that the changes in executive pay are part of a wider change in remuneration policy at the organisation.

“Our remuneration review has led to a change in the reward structure for our senior executives from 1 July 2017, and indeed to the approach we will adopt for all our staff in the future,” the accounts say.

“Our reward programme now centres on a mix of commercial and charitable objectives for all our senior executives, and ensures an alignment of reward provision across the organisation as a whole, moving away from a long-term reward for a small number of executives focused on commercial goals.”

The accounts show that Which?’s overall financial performance was similar to the previous year, with total income falling slightly from £101.2m to £101.1m and total expenditure increasing slightly from £102.1m to £105m.

The charity’s annual general meeting was held yesterday, although the results of votes on several motions to reform the charity were yet to be finalised, according to a spokesman for the charity.

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We must debate charging for regulation, says Charity Commission chief

In a blog, Helen Stephenson says that pressure on the regulator’s funding means that, though the debate will be heated, it must happen

The Charity Commission is expected to propose asking the largest 2,000 charities in England and Wales to contribute a total of about £7m a year to boost the regulator’s resources and help it increase the support it provides to trustees, its chief executive has indicated.

In a blog post published by the commission today, Helen Stephenson says that although she expects the debate with the sector over charging charities to be a heated one, it must be had.

The commission’s suggestion that it would charge charities for its services have already been opposed by some charity umbrella bodies, with the charity leaders body Acevo, the Charity Finance Group, the Small Charities Coalition and the local infrastructure body Navca setting out their opposition to what they called a “charity tax” in a letter to the Treasury last month.

Stephenson says in her blog today that in the three months since she started as chief executive of the regulator the pressure on its finances are one of two main areas she wants to address in the years ahead – the other being improving its services for trustees.

She says the commission’s budget – which is frozen at £20.3m a year until 2020 – has halved in real terms since 2007, while applications for charity registrations have increased by 40 per cent over the past four years.

If the regulator is to continue to prioritise the issues and cases presenting the highest risks to charities and to public trust, then its ability to deal with lower-risk work will decline and the service it provides to charities could become slower, says Stephenson.

She says she is making the case to government for transitional funding to help it bridge the gap between the regulator’s funding and the “significant increase in demand on our services”.

But she says that the context of continued pressure on public finances and the regulator’s desire to provide more support for trustees has led her to conclude that the commission “must start a sensible, open debate about larger charities making a modest contribution to the cost of parts of their regulation”.

Stephenson says work on charging proposals is at an early stage, “but our current thinking is that in order to improve our existing services and develop new services for trustees, we would need to raise in the region of £7m annually from the largest 2,000 charities on our register”, which is likely to be on a sliding scale according to each charity’s annual income.

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The regulator has previously indicated that charities with annual incomes of £100,000 or more might be asked to pay between £75 and £1,750 a year, depending on the outcome of the consultation.

Stephenson says she is realistic about the timescales involved in developing a charging system, which would require legislation to be pushed through an already crowded parliamentary calendar dominated by Brexit.

She says the regulator needs more resources so it can develop and improve its services to trustees.

“It must continue to become easier to do business with us,” she writes. “We must be more available and accessible with advice and guidance for individual trustees.

“Charity trustees are, after all, overwhelmingly volunteers who are well-intentioned and passionate about the causes they espouse for the public benefit.

“The public needs a regulator that can call out bad practice, but to secure the continued success of the charity sector we also need a regulator that is able to help trustees get it right. We need to recognise trusteeship as a national treasure that we must look after, grow, enable into the future.”

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RNIB appoints Sally Harvey to chief executive role

Harvey has been acting chief executive since Lesley-Anne Alexander retired in October last year

The Royal National Institute of Blind People has appointed Sally Harvey as its permanent chief executive.

Harvey, former managing director of the charity’s subsidiary RNIB Places, has been acting chief executive of the RNIB since October 2016, when Lesley-Anne Alexander retired after 12 years at the helm.

Harvey has been at the RNIB since 2009 in several senior leadership roles, the charity said, and was previously acting chief executive and director of housing at the Abbeyfield Society and director of resident services at the Peabody Trust.

She will be paid between £150,000 and £160,000 a year as chief executive, the charity said, which is the same as her predecessor’s wage.

According to its entry on the Charity Commission’s online register, the RNIB had an income of £114.5m in the year to 31 March 2016 and employs 2,359 people.

Harvey said: “I’m honoured to be trusted with this important role. We are at a turning point. The RNIB is changing and we will continue to adapt and modernise our approach.

“Alongside our community, supporters and partners, we are working to ensure that being blind or partially sighted isn’t a barrier, everyone with sight loss can live their life with confidence and the eye health of generations to come is prioritised.” 

The RNIB has made a number of changes to in the past year. One hundred staff left the charity earlier this year after a restructure. The charity also completed a merger with its partner charity Action for Blind People.

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A subsidiary of the charity, RNIB Solutions, which was set up by the charity in 2013 to generate income and provide services such as talking books and a Braille library, has also lost 23 staff as part of a restructure of the division after it made a loss in four of the past five years.

Eleanor Southwood, chair of the RNIB, said in a statement: “On behalf of the board of trustees, I would like to congratulate Sally on her appointment as our new chief executive. 

“Blind and partially sighted people face significant barriers to inclusion in society. In Sally’s appointment we have someone who will work with our community to tackle this head on.”

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After Kids Company, trustees ‘becoming more like inspectors’, says Acevo chief

Vicky Browning tells the Association of Volunteer Managers’ annual conference that trustees feeling under pressure are crossing the line between governance and the executive

The fallout from the collapse of Kids Company means charity trustees are “becoming more like inspectors” and putting their noses too far into executive business, the chief executive of the charity leaders body Acevo has said.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Association of Volunteer Managers in London yesterday, Vicky Browning said charity trustees were under more pressure than ever before.

She said the role of trustees was about three things: strategy, scrutiny and support. But she said events such as the dramatic collapse of Kids Company had affected trustees’ behaviour.

“The way that things like Kids Company have affected us as a sector is that trustees are becoming more like inspectors,” Browning said.

“They want to be absolutely sure about everything and they are getting their noses in a little bit too far across the line that normally divides the executive and non-executive responsibilities.”

Browning told Third Sector after the session that her comments were based on what she was hearing from her membership.

“It’s a sense I get from Acevo members that the line between executive and non-executive responsibilities, which is often something of a grey area, is shifting further into what they consider to be executive territory,” she said.

“The role of trustees has always been that of strategy, scrutiny and support, but in some cases there’s a feeling that the scrutiny role is turning more into that of an inspectorate.”

She said there was no sense that people were blaming trustees for this, but it was a result of the increased pressure and heightened sense of responsibility trustees were feeling.

“But the danger is that it leads to a greater sense of risk-aversion at a time when the sector needs innovation and a positive attitude towards risk more than ever,” she added.

The former trustees of Kids Company and Camila Batmanghelidjh, the charity’s founder and former chief executive, are facing disqualification proceedings after the charity closed abruptly in 2015.

The trustees have said they “wholly reject” the allegation that they were running an unsustainable business model and the decision to bring disqualification proceedings was “both unjust and unprecedented”.

If the proceedings are successful, they could receive bans from running or controlling companies for between two-and-a-half and six years.

Batmanghelidjh told Third Sector this week that she would advise against people becoming charity trustees until the Charity Commission had completed its investigations into Kids Company.

Batmanghelidjh said she believed that she and the trustees of Kids Company had been treated badly and the case being brought against them could set a dangerous precedent.

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Planned changes to fundraising code would ‘shift the goalposts’, says IoF policy chief

In a blog on the Institute of Fundraising website, Daniel Fluskey says proposed amendments to the Code of Fundraising Practice need a rethink

Proposed updates to the Code of Fundraising Practice could represent a “fundamental shift in goalposts” for the Mailing Preference Service, the Institute of Fundraising has said.

In a blog on the IoF website, Daniel Fluskey, head of policy and research at the IoF, gave his initial thoughts on the draft version of the code, which the Fundraising Regulator has put out for consultation.

The new version of the code has been updated to include the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation, EU legislation due to come into force next year.

But in his blog Fluskey warned the proposals about the MPS, a service set up by the Direct Marketing Association to limit unsolicited mailing, needed a rethink.

The new version of the code says organisations must not send direct marketing materials to people registered with the MPS unless they have notified the organisation specifically that they consent to receiving mail from them. The existing version says simply that organisations have to check their databases against the MPS to ensure they are not contacting anyone who does not want to be.

Fluskey said: “The proposal would mean that unless individuals have provided consent to that charity, no direct marketing mailings can be sent. That is a fundamental shift of the goalposts as to what was in the code before and, indeed, significantly changes what the MPS was set up to do.”

Fluskey wrote that the MPS told those signing up to it they would still receive mail from organisations they had done business with in the past, so organisations could still contact those on the MPS if they could demonstrate they had a legitimate interest in doing so.

But he said the changes to the code would exclude legitimate interest and would mean the relationship between a charity and someone who had been engaging with it for years could be wiped out.

“It also means that people signing up to the MPS are clearly told one thing, and sign up on that basis, but actually receive a different experience in reality,” he said.

“I don’t believe that this builds clarity and transparency. This proposal needs a rethink and we’ll be looking at it carefully.”

Fluskey said that other proposed changes needed more detail, such as the requirement that charities should keep up to date with and have regard to relevant guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

He said it would be useful to know whether “have regard to” should be taken to mean “follow”. He questioned whether an organisation would be in breach of the code if it could show it had read the guidance, but decided to take a different, but still legally compliant approach.

He said clarification was needed on the section that dealt with legitimate interest, and there should be more guidance and examples of how charities could explain to donors, clearly but succinctly, their rationale for contacting them using legitimate interest.

But he welcomed the updates to the code overall, saying it was a good thing to ensure that fundraisers understood their responsibilities under the GDPR. He said the inclusion of both consent and legitimate interest as valid grounds for contacting potential donors was “very welcome”.

The consultation will run until 8 December and can be found on the Fundraising Regulator’s website.

A spokeswoman for the Fundraising Regulator said: “As we are in the consultation process, we welcome the insight of the IoF, along with any charities, fundraisers and members of the public who wish to feed back on the proposed changes.”

She urged those who wanted to offer feedback to take part in the consultation.

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Sector too ready to use lobbying act as an excuse, says JRRT chief

Fiona Weir, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, tells NPC annual conference that misplaced fears about the act are stopping charities from campaigning

The voluntary sector is too ready to use the effect of the lobbying act as an excuse not to campaign, Fiona Weir, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, has said.

Speaking at the annual conference of the think tank NPC in London today in a session on how charities can achieve social change in London, Weir said charities had a duty to speak up on behalf of their beneficiaries.

“We cannot adequately support people we work with unless we achieve social change,” she said.

But charities’ misplaced fears about the restrictions of the lobbying act were preventing too many charities from campaigning, she said.

“We are far too ready as a sector to allow the so-called ‘chilling effect’ as an excuse,” she said.

Weir said research by the Charities Aid Foundation showed that 84 per cent of people thought charities were best placed to speak up on their behalf, and she encouraged charities to make sure they were campaigning for the beneficiaries.

“We have got to stop squandering our unique selling point as a sector,” she said.

“We see every day how the latest policy pronouncement is not working,” she said, adding that charities must speak up when they found policy shortcomings.

Weir told Third Sector that charities commonly expressed fears about losing statutory funding as a reason for not wanting to campaign. Risk-averse boards were another factor, she added.

She said in the session that there was too much focus in the voluntary sector on the share of large public contracts that charities secured in large government procurement exercises, when they should be asking if those contracts were fit for purpose.

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Charity Commission ‘dismissive of incidents reported by small charities’, says SCC chief

Mandy Johnson, chief executive of the Small Charities Coalition, tells Radio 4 show that the regulator has told some of its members to deal with serious problems themselves

The Small Charities Coalition has accused the Charity Commission of being “dismissive” about incidents reported to the regulator by small charities.

Appearing on the BBC Radio 4 consumer show You And Yours yesterday, Mandy Johnson, chief executive of the SCC, said the commission was telling charities that reported some incidents they believed to be serious to deal with the problems themselves.

The claims come after guidance released by the Charity Commission last month said too few serious incidents were being reported to the regulator, which was putting charities at risk of further harm.

Johnson said: “We have worked with many of our small charity members to submit serious incident reports to the Charity Commission. Sadly, we’ve found that when the matters relate to small charities, quite often the Charity Commission can be quite dismissive of the reports we have sent through.”

She said that in one case, one of her organisation’s members had reported to the commission concerns about the charity’s chair, who was allegedly abusing their powers.

“We spent months and months collating evidence to demonstrate this to the Charity Commission,” said Johnson.

“We were really disappointed when we got a response from the Charity Commission essentially saying that it was just a matter for the trustees to sort out between themselves.”

In response to a question about whether these incidents were serious enough to warrant a direct response from the commission, Johnson said that issues like the one with the charity chair “can feel very serious to the charities involved” and should be considered as such by the regulator.

But she said the commission needed additional funding from the government if it was to fulfil its role as a regulator properly.

The Charity Commission has had its budget frozen at £20m until 2020 and is expected to launch a consultation on charging charities to fund the regulator in the near future.

In response to Johnson, Sarah Atkinson, director of policy and communications at the Charity Commission, told the programme that it would sometimes be appropriate for charities to deal with internal issues themselves.

“Our first response was that we did ask the trustees to sort it out themselves,” she said. “Where that is not possible, and there is a risk to the charity, we can intervene.”

Atkinson said failing to report fraud to the regulator, Action Fraud or the police risked similar incidents affecting other charities, but when asked by the interviewer she declined to support calls for a legal obligation on all organisations, including charities, to report fraud to the police.

“We think it is essential that charities report fraud to us, so what we have set out in our guidance is how and when to do that,” she said.

“We do want to encourage charities to report to us. It’s not really up to us whether it should be a legal responsibility; what is up to us is that we are able to act on reports of fraud and tackle it.

“We recognise that small charities want and need support from the regulator to enable them to be resilient to fraud so that the money that is for charity gets to charity, and isn’t getting into the pockets of fraudsters.”

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Social Investment Business appoints new chief executive

Nick Temple, deputy chief executive at Social Enterprise UK, will take up the role in January

Nick Temple has been appointed chief executive of the Social Investment Business, the organisation has announced.

Temple, who is deputy chief executive of the umbrella body Social Enterprise UK, will take up his new role in January.

He will replace Jonathan Jenkins, who left SIB earlier this year to become chief executive at London’s Air Ambulance.

Temple, who has been at SEUK for six years, was previously an independent consultant working with organisations including the British Council and UnLtd. Before that he was director of policy and communications at the School for Social Entrepreneurs. 

SIB has not disclosed what Temple’s salary will be, but Jenkins earned between £100,000 and £109,999 in 2016, according to SIB’s most recent accounts. 

“I am tremendously excited to be joining SIB and cannot wait to get started,” said Temple.

“I am joining at a very important time. We need to make social investment work for more charities and social enterprises and SIB is brilliantly placed to test innovative approaches and explore new partnerships that can help tackle the big challenges we face as a country.”

Hazel Blears, chair of the SIB, said: “Nick’s knowledge and understanding of social enterprise and social investment is second to none and I am absolutely delighted that he will be our next chief executive.

“I am looking forward to working with Nick to take our business from strength to strength as we move into a new phase of development and use more of our own money to test new approaches to social investment that help more organisations improve people’s lives.”

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Chief executive of Cancer Research UK to stand down

Sir Harpal Kumar has been leading the charity since 2007 and plans to take some time to decide his next career move

Sir Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, is to stand down in the spring after more than 10 years in the role.

A CRUK spokesman for the charity said Kumar would take some time to decide his next career move.

Kumar was appointed chief executive of Cancer Research Technology, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CRUK, in 2002 before becoming chief operating officer of the parent charity in 2004. He has been chief executive of CRUK since April 2007. 

Kumar, who was knighted in the 2016 New Year Honours list for services to cancer research, said in a statement today he “always believed that organisations benefit from refreshed leadership every so often and CRUK is no exception”.

CRUK is the UK’s largest fundraising charity and had an overall income of £679.2m in the year to the end of March 2017. 

A statement from the charity said it had made significant strides in the fields of cancer prevention and early diagnosis under Kumar’s leadership.

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, chair of CRUK, said: “I would like to thank Harpal for his tremendous contribution to the charity over the past 15 years. CRUK is a truly remarkable organisation and even more so because of Harpal’s inspirational leadership.”

He said the charity had begun the search for Kumar’s successor and planned to make an appointment to coincide with his departure. 

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