by Charles Moore, Telegraph
Does it matter that the chief executive of Save the Children earns more (£163,000 last year) than the Prime Minister (£143,500)? Should we worry that, as this newspaper revealed this week, at least 38 charity bosses are now earning more than £100,000 a year?
The answer is not obvious. Large charities need professional competence and charismatic leadership. Such things must, within reason, be paid for. On the other hand, charities are funded by people giving money to help other people who need it more. If a class of charito-crats, richer and more powerful than their ordinary donors, has come into being, that is wrong.
[...] In the Blair/Brown era, such managerialists conquered charity’s commanding heights. Several, like Justin Forsyth, who earns the big money from Save the Children (see above), actually worked for Mr Blair and Mr Brown. With the Charities Act of 2006, the nature of charity, which had been widely agreed in British culture for centuries, was redefined. The “four heads” of charitable purpose – religion, education, the relief of poverty and other purposes beneficial to the community – were superseded by 13 much more politicised categories. The notorious clause 3.2 of the Bill (“critically flawed”, says the Commons public administration select committee) told the Charity Commission to define “public benefit” in the secret hope that independent schools would be forced to lose their charitable status. (Luckily, it was too badly drafted to succeed.) The commission was weakened as a regulator. Hence the cases of fraud, tax evasion and camouflaged Islamist extremism that are now coming to light.
At the same time, charities were increasingly used as off-the-books agencies of government, and some (“sock-puppet” charities) were created solely for that purpose. Instead of facing the public, and raising money from them, such charities depended on government largesse – hence the endless networking. More charities were included in the ambit of official power.