Salary of Consumers' Association chief falls to £462,000

The end of a controversial incentive plan meant Peter Vicary-Smith's earnings fell by 15 per cent, say the latest accounts, but his basic pay rose and he received a £44k compensatory payment

Peter Vicary-Smith
Peter Vicary-Smith

The chief executive of the Consumers’ Association, the charity behind the Which? publications and brand, saw his salary fall by 15 per cent last year when a controversial bonus scheme came to an end.

The charity’s accounts for the year to 30 June 2017, which were published at Companies House this week, show that Peter Vicary-Smith’s pay fell from £490,000 in 2015/16 to £462,000 last year.

A long-term incentive plan bonus that earned Vicary-Smith an additional £125,000 on top of his basic salary in the 2015/16 financial year had been discontinued.

The LTIP was introduced to incentivise senior management to deliver long-term growth across Which?’s commercial business and meant that six-figure bonuses were paid to members of Which?’s executive team.

But the LTIP scheme was scrapped earlier this year after a review of executive remuneration within the organisation and a number of years of controversy about pay at the organisation.

A Third Sector investigation last year showed bonuses worth a total of £2.24m were set aside by the organisation in the year to 30 June 2016.

The latest accounts show that Vicary-Smith received a payment of £44,000 as compensation for the closure of the LTIP.

They reveal that Vicary-Smith’s basic pay rose to £241,000 from £235,000 in the previous year, and he received a bonus of £98,000, compared with £54,000 the previous year.

He also receieved a pension allowance of £27,000, benefits-in-kind of £17,000 and allowances of £38,000, but had to repay £1,000 of LTIP, according to the accounts.

The accounts say that the changes in executive pay are part of a wider change in remuneration policy at the organisation.

"Our remuneration review has led to a change in the reward structure for our senior executives from 1 July 2017, and indeed to the approach we will adopt for all our staff in the future," the accounts say.

"Our reward programme now centres on a mix of commercial and charitable objectives for all our senior executives, and ensures an alignment of reward provision across the organisation as a whole, moving away from a long-term reward for a small number of executives focused on commercial goals."

The accounts show that Which?’s overall financial performance was similar to the previous year, with total income falling slightly from £101.2m to £101.1m and total expenditure increasing slightly from £102.1m to £105m.

The charity’s annual general meeting was held yesterday, although the results of votes on several motions to reform the charity were yet to be finalised, according to a spokesman for the charity.

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