Sir Stephen can best be described as the cheer-leader for the voluntary and charitable sector, or more precisely their CEO's as he appears to fulfil the role of General Secretary of their very own union. As such he can be relied upon to argue strongly for better pay and conditions for the members of this exclusive coterie. In fact here he can be seen enthusiastically putting in a pay claim on their behalf only a few days ago. It's also worth noting that as a body, ACEVO is paid £425,000 a year by the government, in order to be able to lobby the government.
Now this is all very relevant to us in Probation because many colleagues could well find themselves working for one of his member charity outfits in the very near future. Sir Stephen and his organisation ACEVO is playing an absolutely crucial role in making sure that lots of his members pick up contracts for our work as part of the Transforming Rehabilitation omnishambles. He's long been keen on privatising the Probation Service and here he is in 2011 giving evidence to the House of Commons Public Administration Committee:-
You only have to look at one example: crime, and the money that we spend in our probation and rehabilitation services. Only 4% of that budget is delivered through third sector organisations, and yet we know the state is hopeless at rehabilitation because more than 70% of people who have been in prison are back in prison within two years. Third sector organisations that deliver those services get records as low as 50%, so why are we not commissioning them more? I think we have to open up our public services to ensure that third sector organisations really can deliver more.
For some reason best known to himself, Sir Stephen has been picking a fight with the Charity Commission for some time, but yesterday their new Chairman William Shawcross decided to fire a broadside back telling the Daily Telegraph that high wages for charity CEO's ran the danger of bringing the sector into disrepute:-
William Shawcross, the chairman of the Charity Commission, warned that charities were risking their reputations if they were not being seen to get a grip on boardroom excess.
Unite, the union that represents many low-paid charity workers, was quick to respond as reported in the Independent:-
Rachael Maskell, Unite's national officer for the not-for-profit sector, said: "The excessive City pay culture is seeping into the remuneration packages of charity bosses and should be curbed. This is to be deplored, as it corrupts the ethos of the voluntary sector and is an insult to those, often on average incomes, who donate to charity.
"I think the general public will be shocked by the scale of the packages that some executives are being awarded. This sector is losing its sense of what real value is."
Like all good union General Secretaries, Sir Stephen was equally quick to defend his members and return fire, on Unite:-
Stephen Bubb, chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), accused the union of gross hypocrisy over the issue of pay. He said: "We were not surprised to see that the joint general secretaries of Unite earn a combined package of £308,000. They are running a complex organisation with millions of members and a broad range of stakeholders, just like other third-sector leaders.
On his blog though, Bubb decided to broaden his attack and have a go at The Daily Telegraph, Priti Patel MP, and of course William Shawcross and the Charity Commission 'for bringing the sector into disrepute':-
This is a disgraceful distraction by Mr Shawcross. Of all the issues facing charities why does he pick on something that is simply not a problem. Third sector CEO's earn on average £58,000. That is less than Mr Shawcross earns pro rata as chair of the Commission.
However, according to the Independent article, Sir Stephen was neglecting to mention:-
But the survey also revealed that more than 200 members of ACEVO earned more than £70,000 last year. While the overall pay levels had fallen from last year, the median total salary of chief executives had risen by about £8,000 over the last six years to £57,264.
Now I guess readers are wondering how much Sir Stephen brings home? Well, in July 2011 he told the House Of Commons Public Administration Committee that he earned £100,000. Anyway, the whole issue is nicely out in the open, so lets have a look at some of those outfits likely to be bidding for our work. A blog called The Void covered the ground in March and reported here on findings from the charity trade journal Third Sector:-
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.