Scotland is home to an endless number of charities that work tirelessly to better the lives of others, but while salaries in the voluntary sector are notoriously low, for some of their bosses, this is far from the truth.
The number of charity executives paid over £200,000 a year has continued to increase throughout the country, despite effots to cap the pay.
Charity trustees have to consider a lot of things when setting senior salaries – some jobs involve huge responsibilities over thousands of staff and many millions of pounds.”Martin Sime. Chief Executive of SCVO
In Scotland, Stuart Earley of the SSPCA, earns more than those in charge of running the country. According to the latest figures availiable, he earned £216,320 in 2014.
This figure is higher than the annual salary of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who is on £135,000, and the £142,000 earned by Prime Minister David Cameron.
His earnings make him not only the highest paid charity boss in Scotland, but one of the highest in the UK.
Accounts from the charity indicate that the former aquarium bosses wage has risen by more than a third in the past three years.
Mr Earley has headed the SSPCA since 2007 and led the organisation to the Charity of the Year award in 2013.
Laura Lee, chief executive at cancer charity Maggie’s Centre, earns between £110,000 and £120,000 a year, according to findings.
Lee worked alongside Maggie Jencks to develop the centre which offers free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their families and friends.
Since the opening of the first Maggie’s centre in 1996, eight others have been established, covering all of the major NHS hospitals in the country.
The Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) represents the charity industry in Scotland. Martin Sime. Chief Executive of SCVO said: “Charity trustees have to consider a lot of things when setting senior salaries – some jobs involve huge responsibilities over thousands of staff and many millions of pounds. It’s important that pay scales can be justified, often through benchmarking.
“Increasingly charities are trying to limit the gap between lowest and highest paid staff in a move which chimes with the ethos of the third sector. We’d also encourage charities to be transparent and upfront about these things. Let’s remember that charity workers don’t earn private sector salaries or have access to the pensions and no-redundancy agreements that the public sector enjoy.”
In just three years, the number of charity chiefs paid more than £60,000 has risen by 26 per cent.
The increasing competition for donations and sponsors has been held responsible for the steep salaries.
Bosses at Quarriers, Capability Scotland, Scottish Autism and Scottish Association for Mental Health all earn yearly wages of around £100,000.
Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: “While fat cat charity bosses are coining it in, many ordinary people who generously donate in good faith feel like they’re being robbed.
“Donations should be used to support worthy causes not fund luxury lifestyles for executives.”