A high profile charitable mistake that raises several questions


Yesterday the Charity Commission published a report that will have sent enormous concerns outside and inside of the Royal Family. It relates to a charity called The Prince Andrew Charitable Trust and the money that was inappropriately used to pay a Trustee represented around about 25% of their annual turnover which is of course a huge amount. The turnover of the charity is approximately £1.4m and the payment made to the Trustee was £355k which if this was over 20 years would have been a significant amount for a Trustee, but it may well have been over a much smaller timescale. The reality is that running charities is something that requires the people doing the work to be reimbursed for their efforts. A few years ago Priti Patel wrote several newspaper columns complaining about people who ran multi million pound charities that worked overseas who as CEOs were being paid more than £100k a year. The reality of course is that CEOs of companies with similar turnovers and responsibilities would have been paid 10 times that sum. However when it comes to large Charities, even the Trustees may require a level of payment or else it will only be wealthy people who can work for them. From 2010 to 2012 I was a Trustee of a Charity that had a turnover of over £1m at the start and nearly £8m when I stepped down. My involvement as a Chair took 2-3 days a month and if I had been working for the Government or as a Non Executive Director of a business I would probably have been paid between £250 to at least £1000 a day in todays terms. Indeed if I was an MP like Priti Patel I may have been paid those sort of sums per hour (She was paid £1,000 an hour by a company before being reseated as a Minister). However it is very difficult to get permission from the Charity Commission to pay Trustees any sum beyond expenses, even though the sums would normally be much less than these figures. In the case of the charity concerned we did seek advice from the Commission but it became very clear that making such an arrangement would have demanded a disproportionate amount of time and paperwork so we gave up. I am confident that if there was a bit more flexibility from the charity commission that most Charities would act in an appropriate manner and perhaps guidance for payment of Trustees would then make such an arrangement as the Prince Andrew Charitable Trust less likely to happen by mistake, or perhaps that is too far to assume? To be clear it is the Government that runs the Charity Commission and so it is them who need to make these changes!

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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