Acevo backs trustee payments

Fifteen per cent of charities that took part in an Acevo governance survey said they would need to pay trustees in future to ensure they have the right skills and experience on their boards.

Chief Executives on Governance: Acevo Commission of Inquiry, 2007 is based on a survey of the views of chief executives, chairs and experts on the state of governance in the sector.

The survey found that only 4 per cent of respondents were aware that trustees can be remunerated if the Charity Commission gives permission.

The report concludes that charities should be allowed to remunerate trustees if it is likely to help them further their purposes.

It says reform is still needed and that the commission should give charities more freedom in choosing the governance structures that would best serve their causes, including paying trustees or bringing chief executives onto their boards.

"Even when governance reform is within the regulations, it often falls on voluntary organisations to prove it will be of benefit rather than on the regulator to prove that it will be detrimental," said Seb Elsworth, head of policy at Acevo. "This makes the whole process complicated and time-consuming."

Debra Allock Tyler, chief executive of the Directory of Social Change, commented: "I am 100 per cent against the idea of paying trustees. The point of the charitable structure is that it gives you complete independence. If you are paid, you are not independent. We don't pay other volunteers, so why should we pay trustees? It would make it look as if having an input into running the charity was more valuable than serving tea or working with children."

To pay or not to pay?

- The Charity Commission revealed at a debate about trustee remuneration earlier this month that about 50 charities currently pay their trustees. The commission organised the debate with a view to updating its guidance on the matter.

- Three charities in favour of trustee remuneration (the Anchor Trust, CfBT Education Trust and the RNIB) and three against (Oxfam, the MHA Care Group and Sense) argued the merits of their positions. A summary of discussions will be published next year.

- Charities wishing to remunerate trustees must ask the commission's permission, but provisions in the Charities Act 2006 will enable charities to pay trustees for providing certain goods and services without having to request the regulator's permission.

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