Former chief executive of Which? to receive £825,000, accounts show

Peter Vicary-Smith was paid £494,000 in 2017/18 and will get payments totalling £331,000 in the next two years, mostly consisting of pay in lieu of notice

Peter Vicary-Smith
Peter Vicary-Smith

The former chief executive of Which? was paid nearly £500,000 during his last year in the job, and payments to him over the next two years will add up to more than £330,000, the latest accounts show.

According to the charity’s accounts for the year to 30 June 2018, published today, Peter Vicary-Smith, who left the charity last month, was paid £494,000 in remuneration for 2017/18. He will be paid a further £331,000 in connection with contractual employment and other termination payment obligations, the majority of which is pay in lieu of notice.

The latest accounts show that the pay in lieu of notice comes because Vicary-Smith agreed an earlier departure date to allow an orderly handover to the new chief executive.

Anabel Hoult, a former director at Save the Children, took up her role as Vicary-Smith’s replacement on 1 October.

The £331,000 will be paid to Vicary-Smith over the 2018/19 and 2019/20 financial years, the accounts say.

The £494,000 remuneration Vicary-Smith received in 2017/18 included a basic salary of £245,000, plus benefits in kind, a pension allowance and allowances that together added up to £84,000.

He also received a bonus of £166,000, the accounts say.

The charity has been embroiled in a dispute with some of its members over high pay and the use of a controversial long-term incentive plan, created to incentivise the senior management to deliver long-term growth across Which?’s commercial business.

A Third Sector investigation in 2016 showed that the LTIP had led to bonuses of £2.24m being awarded to the senior management team.

The LTIP closed officially last year, but that led to compensation payments being made to the senior staff affected by the change in policy.

Last year’s accounts show that Vicary-Smith received a compensation payment of £44,000 after the closure of the LTIP.

The latest accounts show that salaries for the executive team increased by approximately £1m to a total of £2.9m.

A total of £85,000 was paid out in compensation after the LTIP was closed, the latest accounts say, and £416,000 was paid in compensation for loss of office.

The accounts say the increase in pay to the charity’s executive team "reflects both an average larger leadership team year-on-year, plus an uplift in costs relating to compensation for loss of office".

There were 39 people on salaries of more than £100,000 a year, according to the accounts, compared with 32 the previous year.

A spokesman for Which? said: "Peter agreed to leave the organisation before the end of his contract to allow for a smooth transition as the new chief executive takes up their position.

"Over the past two years, we have built up our senior leadership team, leading to an increase in the total pay for that group.

"In the year 2017/18 we spent £15.2m on charitable activity, an increase of 14 per cent on the previous year, delivering positive change for millions of consumers in the UK."

Total income for the charity was £100.5m, the accounts show, compared with £101.3m the previous year. Expenditure fell from £105,1m to £104.2m, according to the accounts.

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