Peers from the three major parties have suggested that charities might eventually have to bow to pressure to pay trustees.
Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, Lord Smith of Finsbury and Baroness Tyler of Enfield, who are Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat peers respectively, were speaking at a debate on self-regulation at the Charity Commission’s annual public meeting yesterday.
Asked if the commission’s declining income and reduced regulatory role would force charities to consider paying their boards, all three peers said it might be inevitable.
Hodgson said the issue had divided opinion when he chaired the Big Society Deregulation Taskforce this year. "I was so cowardly I didn’t make a recommendation," he said. "We ran away from it. My view is that it’s coming, if we like it or not."
Hodgson nodded when Smith, former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said he didn’t think it would be appropriate for small charities but that it might be so for specialist board roles on larger charities. "It might have to come," said Smith.
Tyler, who is chief executive of the charity Relate, said the diversity of boards would suffer if it were left to people with time and money on their hands to take on the most challenging trustee roles. She said: "We may need to be thinking of honorarium payments."