Radio 4's Today Programme is a national treasure. I love listening before I head off for work. And even better, I love appearing as I did yesterday.
One of the highlights is the “Thought for the Day “slot. So I was dead chuffed to discover as I listened that I was the subject of this morning's Thought.
Canon Angela Tilby from my old college Christ Church at Oxford had picked up on my use of a biblical quotation in my interview yesterday. “A labourer is worthy of his hire" I had said. So being the good cleric she is she had unearthed the 2 uses of this phrase in the New Testament. She used them very effectively against my arguments on pay. I have to admit she put a cogent and reasoned case. It was nice to hear this contentious issue addressed in a logical and reasoned way. I was deeply flattered! She made a good case.
This is more than can be said for rabid reporting in today's Telegraph and Mail. The Telegraph's deathless reportage has uncovered the fact that 31 years ago the good people of Clapham had elected me to the Council. The problem was it was for the Labour interest and that's enough for a "reds under the bed" story to stir the appetites, and ulcers, of some Telegraph readers. Amusing for my friends to see the pro competition Bubb (denounced recently by Len McCluskie no less) portrayed as a rabid leftie. And the Mail managed to drag up from the archives a deeply unflattering photo of me without a tie. Shocking when I am always regaled in the most gorgeous ties. Still, if you lift your head above the parapets on matters of contention you must expect the odd tomato! So, all good fun.
And so let me reproduce the comment piece I have sent to the Telegraph.
“As the Bible says, "a labourer is worthy of his hire". This is as true in the charity world as it is in the public and private sectors. Leading a top national or international charity, employing thousands of staff and turning over millions of pounds a year, is complex and difficult work. At a time when the sector’s income is falling as demand for its work increases, charities need experienced, highly skilled professionals capable of delivering the best results with the resources available to them. The days when major charities could be run by well-meaning amateurs are long-gone.
For context, the average charity CEO is paid £58,000, which is significantly lower than the pay of senior civil servants or council leaders, let alone leaders in the private sector. The head of Oxfam, one of the world’s biggest and most effective charities, is paid less than half the salary of the CEO of Wandsworth Council. Mr Shawcross wonders whether potential donors will be put off by rates of pay among charity leaders, but the donors I hear from want to know that their money is going to effective, well-led charities capable of using it wisely. So when trustees come to recruit for the CEO job, they want to attract the very best available professionals, balancing the need to attract the top talent with the countless other calls on charities’ funds. In my experience they do so professionally and properly.
I was very surprised to read Priti Patel MP’s claims on the subject of public funding. The government does not donate to charities- it pays for contracts to deliver services, and demands high standards of delivery in return. That's what charities provide, thanks to outstanding professional leadership. What really matters to charities, supporters and funders are the results they deliver for the beneficiaries and causes that they serve. We should therefore judge CEO salaries against the outcomes they achieve. Trustees are looking to hire chief executives who can make a real difference, and the salaries offered reflect the importance and demanding nature of the role. It’s a simple case of supply and demand.
A final point: the Charity Commission pays Mr Shawcross a higher pro rata salary than that of the average charity CEO. Presumably they wanted to get a good person to do the job. Should charities not do the same?”