Almost all Charity Commission employees received a bonus last year, new figures show.
The data, published on the commission’s website, shows that 314 of the regulator’s 323 staff received a "non-consolidated performance-related payment" in the year to 5 April 2013.
The total value of performance-related payments paid out was £220,187, the figures show. This was made up of end-of-year payments paid to 314 staff totalling £208,673, at an average of £664.56 per person, plus mid-year payments totalling £11,514 paid to 22 staff, at an average of £523.36 per person.
The mid-year awards were described by a commission spokeswoman as "special bonus payments for exceptional performance".
The total amount of bonuses paid out to commission staff was 17 per cent larger than in the previous year, the figures show. This is a rise from £187,946 paid in to 314 of the 347 staff the regulator employed in the year ending 5 April 2012. No special bonuses were paid during that year.
The figures are not "official statistics" but "internal workforce management information published in the interests of transparency", according to the page on the commission’s website where it is published.
The documents also show the total pay bill at the commission dropped from £15,433,638 in 2011/12 to £12,688,377 in 2012/13.
A spokeswoman for the commission said it was a requirement of civil service departments to link individuals’ performance to their pay. "This, together with other commission reward practices, aims to ensure employees are engaged and motivated through three years of government pay restraint," she said.
"The Charity Commission’s staff members work extremely hard under difficult circumstances. The criticisms of the commission by the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee are in no way related to staff performance. Our staff members’ commitment and performance has never been questioned."
An analysis of such payments across government and public bodies including the Charity Commission, carried out by The Daily Telegraph newspaper, shows that all staff at Companies House, the Defence Support Group and Vehicle Certification Agency received bonuses, compared with just one in 100 at the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, the Department for Communities & Local Government and the Health & Safety Executive.
Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, told Third Sector: "Our criticisms of the Charity Commission lay primarily at the door of its leadership and I appreciate that it has many hard-working members of staff.
"However, one of the recommendations of our report was that the commission needs to better prioritise its limited resources in order to fulfil its duties more effectively. Whether a 17 per cent increase in bonuses for staff is the right priority is something I would question."
Charles Cotton, performance and reward adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said that the use of performance-related payments had become more common in the public sector in recent years, often replacing or linked to length of service-based pay rises.
"There have been bonuses available in the public sector for many years," he said. "Historically they tended to be awarded to senior groups of employees or certain special groups, such as fundraisers."