NCVO hopes its inquiry will stop charity chiefs' pay being a 'media football'

Martyn Lewis, chair of the umbrella body, addresses a reception of the NCVO and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Civil Society and Volunteering at the House of Commons

Martyn Lewis
Martyn Lewis

Martyn Lewis, chair of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, has said he is hoping that the inquiry he is leading into charity chief executive pay will stop the issue from being used as a "media football".

Speaking at a Christmas reception of the NCVO and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Civil Society and Volunteering at the House of Commons yesterday, Lewis said he hoped the outcome of the inquiry, which will draw up guidelines for trustees on chief executive pay, would stop it from being a recurring issue.

The NCVO announced in August that it would bring together a group of charity chairs to draw up joint guidelines on chief executive pay, supported by the Charity Commission. It is due to publish its recommendations next spring.

It came after articles in The Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail newspapers criticised the salaries of chief executives from the Disasters Emergency Committee group of charities for being too high.

Lewis said he thought views on chief executive pay fell into four categories: those who thought no one working for a charity should be paid; those who thought the executive should be paid but others should work on a voluntary basis; those who thought charity workers should be paid, but at a discounted rate to the public and private sectors; and those who were happy to accept most salary levels at current rates.

He said the last of these views tended to come from the organisations that have funded and therefore analysed charities, such as trusts and foundations and companies.

Lewis said the inquiry, which met for the first time last month, was collecting a range of views including those of five donors who cancelled their regular donations to the British Red Cross after reading the articles about chief executive pay in The Daily Telegraph about their decision. 

"I hope the result of the inquiry will put an end to this being a repetitive issue once and for all, and the conclusion will stop it from being a media football," said Lewis.

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