Hotels and taxi fares bump up Dame Suzi Leather's expenses

Charity Commission chair's part-time job 'makes big figures inevitable'

Dame Suzi Leather, chair of the Charity Commission, spent £31,768 on expenses in 2008/09, according to the regulator's online list of expenses incurred by board members and senior executives.

The commission said it had decided to publish expenses "in line with its commitment to transparency and openness". The figures were posted on its website on 27 July, according to a spokeswoman. They did not attract media attention until this week, when they were mentioned in a parliamentary answer.

The hotel and travel element of Leather's expenses, totalling £25,403, were published in the commission's resource accounts and reported by Third Sector in July. These costs, the highest in the commission, were related to travel from her Devon home to the regulator's London office.

The latest figures show an additional £6,365,  of which £4,697 was spent on taxi fares.

A commission spokeswoman said: "The figure is high, working out at about £35 a day on taxis. 

"However, as chair, Suzi Leather is the commission's main figurehead. Her role involves a great deal of non office-based work. The majority of her time is spent visiting charities around England and Wales and meeting key sector representatives. 

"Because she is contracted to work just three days a week, her diary is inevitably very busy, with back-to-back meetings throughout her days and evenings. Wherever practical, Dame Suzi walks to engagements - much of the time, however, taxis are the most efficient way to travel from one meeting to the next."

David Locke, executive director of charity services, claimed expenses totalling £9,313, the second highest. Chief executive Andrew Hind claimed £4,006.

The commission said expenses figures would be published quarterly and scrutinised every six months by its audit committee.

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