Charity trade journal Third Sector have released a league table (PDF) which highlights the staggering sums being paid to the bosses of many so called charities.
The magazine lists the top 150 earners in UK charities by income and broken down into sectors. It is a litany of obscene wealth built on the back of the poorest and most vulnerable, revealing for example that whilst next week the Anchor Trust Housing Association will be sending out bedroom tax bills – sure to result in eviction for many people – the highest earner at the trust earns a shocking £275,000 a year.
Elsewhere in the document is a list of the top earners at mainstream charities, most of them household names. Unsurprisingly it reads like an roll call of workfare exploiters and Work Programme sub-contractors.
Right up at the top of the list is the notorious Shaw Trust, one of the largest charitable Work Programme contractors and responsible for thousands of claimants suffering benefit sanctions. Whilst those sanctioned on the recommendations of the charity face immediate destitution and even homelessness, the boss takes home £180,000 a year, coming in at joint fifth of the highest paid mainstream charity earners.
Other Work Programme sub-contractors in the top 30 include Scope, RNIB, Leonard Chesire Foundation and Mencap.
Workfare exploiters Salvation Army predictably feature in the list at joint 27th. The British Heart Foundation, who claim to be moving away from workfare but according to their website are still very much part of the Work Programme, are at number 12 with the highest paid staff member earning £173,000, whilst Barnados are also on the list at number 20.
The list is also a reminder of who has pulled out of workfare. Age UK, Cancer Research, Marie Curie and Sense all make the top 40 and have all rejected workfare over the last year and a half.
Charities will claim they need to pay high salaries to compete with the business sector. The upshot of this is business people running charities, who put profit and the needs of the corporate sector they left behind before the people they are funded by the public to help. Workfare is good for business, helping to undermine wages and workplace organisation. And it’s good for big charities, who not only get a stream of unpaid workers but if they are particularly compliant may also be offered lucrative government welfare-to-work contracts.
That these are contracts and workfare placements that punish, degrade and impoverish the very people they claim to support can be brushed aside with glossy PR featuring ‘success stories’ – the handful of people who haven’t had miserable experiences at the hands of these organisations.
Millions of lives are currently being crushed under austerity and the erosion of the welfare state. As Scope Chief Executive Richard Hawkes has said however, these savage cuts provide big opportunities for charities. The end result of corporate style charities paying bosses hundreds of thousands of pounds are those bosses acting in their own class interests and attacking the very people whose poverty they leech from to fund their own lavish lifestyles.
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