The number of staff working for the biggest names in the charity sector fell by almost 6,000 over the past year, research by Third Sector has found.
But overall spending on staff wages among those charities increased from £3.4bn to £3.6bn, information from the charities’ accounts shows.
The figures come from the most recent accounts – broadly covering the years 2017 and 2017/18 – of the 155 charities that make up Third Sector’s Charity Brand Index, which includes the most prominent names in the charity sector.
Research by Third Sector found that the charities employed 165,240 people, down from 171,022 when the exercise was conducted last year.
The study also found a small fall in the average number of staff employed at each charity, from 1,089 to 1,073, but a rise in the median number of employees from 395 to 435.
The mean average amount spent on wages per charity rose from £21.8m to £23m, and the median increased from £10.5m to £11.9m.
Gill Taylor, a charity sector management consultant, said the discrepancy between the rise in total pay and the fall in overall staff numbers could be explained partly by pay rises in London.
She said analysis of the overall figures showed an increase in average pay from £19,880 to £21,786, an increase of 9.5 per cent.
But a substantial proportion of that could be attributed to the need to increase wages in London to meet the high cost of living in the capital, Taylor said.
Pay increases in the sector probably accounted for up to 4 per cent of the total, she said, with the recruitment of more senior staff and reductions in the number of more lowly paid employees also leading to a rise in total salaries.
Third Sector found that, despite a fall in overall staff numbers, the total amount paid out in redundancy payments had fallen from £36.3m to £27.7m.
The average highest salary increased only slightly, the research found, rising to £126,800, compared with £125,400 the previous year.
A different cut-off point was used in this year’s analysis – 1 February rather than 1 December – to ensure that this year’s figures included all of the 2017 and 2017/18 accounts filed by the charities included in the study.
The analysis is based on the total numbers of staff among the 155 charities, and not analysis of the individual charities included in Third Sector’s study.