Bonus paid to Marie Stopes International chief falls to £124k

The bonus paid to the chief executive of the women and girls’ health charity Marie Stopes International fell by £93,000 but still totalled more than £120,000 last year, latest figures show. 

The charity’s accounts for 2019 show Simon Cooke’s pay fell from between £430,001 and £440,000 in 2018 to between £340,001 and £350,000 last year. 

He received a basic salary of £217,250 and a performance-related bonus of the same amount in 2018, but the latest figures show his bonus for 2019 was lower, at slightly more than £124,000.

The charity was criticised last year by the Charity Commission for failing to properly record discussions that led to Cooke being awarded such a large salary package in 2018.

Asked to comment on the latest amount paid to Cooke, an MSI spokesperson said base pay increases were benchmarked to inflation. 

The chief executive’s performance-related pay was linked to delivery of specific mission and financial objectives which were set before the beginning of the year and assessed after the year was complete, they said.

“Our remuneration committee’s discussions, which are all documented as required, concluded that as programming growth was slightly slower than in the previous year, the formula for calculating the bonus was clearly working as intended.”

Although the total number of staff at the charity fell by 212 to 10,300, the number of people being paid £60,000 or more during the year increased from 36 in 2018 to 57 in 2019. 

Asked to explain the rise, the charity said it had a global remuneration policy and country programmes award annual increments benchmarked to local inflation, and that banding was also affected by the foreign exchange rate.

The accounts show the charity’s total income rose four per cent in 2019 to £308.3m.

Donations more than doubled from 2018 to 2019, reaching £8.8m – in part due to an investment in individual fundraising in the US, but mainly due to one large, generous gift.

Grant income showed a small increase to £160.4m, and earned income fell slightly to £115.6m in 2019.

Expenditure increased in line with the growth of the charity's income, rising from £289.1m in 2018 to £301.4m.

In 2019, MSI built gender into its annual salary review process to support its objective of narrowing the gender pay gap.

Despite its efforts, however, the mean gender pay gap across its global support office increased from 4.8 per cent to nine per cent. 

MSI reported that an increased focus on safeguarding had resulted in a rise in incident reporting. 

In 2019, 35 incidents were reviewed and investigated.

Of these complaints, 16 were substantiated, five were partly substantiated, and 14 were unsubstantiated.

MSI said disciplinary action was taken in the jurisdiction where the events took place and reports made to authorities as appropriate. 

Cooke said in his foreword to the accounts that MSI’s services had stopped 13.1 million unintended pregnancies, 6.5 million unsafe abortions, and 34,600 maternal deaths.

“With essentially flat income, this was achieved by greater efficiency and a laser focus on providing choice and quality,” he said.

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