£10m drop in income at charity behind the Which? brand

The Consumers' Association says the fall is mainly due to the closure of its mortgage advisory service

Income at the charity behind the Which? brand fell by about 10 per cent last year, mainly due to the closure of its mortgage advice service, new figures show.

Its latest accounts show the Consumers’ Association’s total income dropped by more than £10m year on year to just over £91m in the year to the end of June 2020.

A large proportion of fall was attributed to closure of the charity’s mortgage and insurance advice services.

As a result of these closures, additional cost controls and reductions, spending was reduced by more than £16m to about £83.5m.

There was a small decrease in charitable spend resulting from paused activity during last year’s strategic review, as well as the disruption caused by Covid-19, according to the accounts.

Spending on salaries, wages and other employee costs fell by just over £10m as staff numbers were cut by more than 150 to 638, the figures show.

Third Sector revealed in May 2019 that the charity could face having to make significant redundancies because it was considering closing its mortgage and insurance advice services.

The latest accounts show pay received by chief executive Anabel Hoult increased to between £390,000 and £400,000, up from between £330,000 and £340,000 in the previous year.

The figure includes a pensions allowance that has more than tripled year on year, while the bonus payment has nearly doubled to £103,000.

Hoult became chief executive in July 2018.

At the time a spokesman said Hoult would receive a base salary of £250,000 a year plus a bonus that would have a target value of 30 per cent of her salary but capped at 50 per cent, meaning she could not receive more than £375,000 a year.

The charity said today the figure from the previous article had focused only on basic salary and bonus pay.

Chief executive pay at the charity was lower than it had been in previous years after the charity ended a controversial long-term incentive plan that led to six-figure bonuses being paid by its commercial arm to several senior executives.

A Which? spokesperson said: “While we experienced a decline in income in 2019/20, a large proportion of this was due to the closure of Which? Mortgage Advisers in the previous year, a decision that was made to ensure we were in the best possible position to help consumers, not just now, but well into the future.

“We have seen millions of consumers turning to our vital advice during the pandemic and a return to growth in subscriber numbers. We continue to work hard to make life simpler, fairer and safer for all consumers.”

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