The head of Britain’s voluntary sector, Sir Stephen Bubb, has been condemned for having his 60th birthday party in the House of Lords partly paid by his own organisation.
Sir Stephen, chief executive of the charity leaders’ association Acevo, who is understood to be on a salary of more than £100,000, said on his blog that it "seemed just right to celebrate my 60th with a tea party in the House of Lords on Monday!” Acevo is funded by membership fees from more than 1,500 British charity chiefs.
Tory MP Priti Patel told the Huffington Post UK: “Money held by charities should be used for charitable purposes, not for personal perks and parties.”
“There needs to be a greater amount of openness and transparency over the way charities act and spend the money they receive from taxpayers and from donations.”
Sir Stephen said the party was attended by "an eclectic mix of family and friends, Acevo members, parliamentarians, churchmen, media, old college pals, trade unionists, Baronesses, [and] cabinet ministers".
“I even had a note from Ed Miliband to wish me well, though as he said, '60; hard to believe it!'. And a card from Tony and Cherie Blair," he boasted.
Sir Stephen's deputy, Dr Peter Kyle, is understood to be similarly well-remunerated, earning between £80,000 and £90,000. Dr Kyle is also a prospective parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party.
Combined with pension contributions of around £20,000, the combined bill for the two charity chiefs is £200,000, over ten percent of the entire staff budget.
A former Acevo official told the Huffington Post UK: “It seems an awful lot of resources for a party that included a large number of relatives and some friends.”
The party was held on the 5th November 2012 for ninety people, in the House of Lords’ Chomondley Room and on the Terrace under the sponsoring of Labour peer Baroness Gould of Potternewton.
The afternoon tea for ninety people would cost £1,345.50, given the standard £14.95 cost per person.
An Acevo spokeswoman confirmed that the charity paid half of the cost, but Sir Stephen 'paid half the cost personally'.
She added: “This was a tea party, no alcohol was provided and Sir Stephen arranged his own birthday cake.”
"These revelations will lead to the public and people who donate to charities calling into question in impartiality of charity leaders. There needs to be a greater amount of openness and transparency over the way charities act and spend the money they receive from taxpayers and from donations.”
Sir Stephen has recently caused controversy for defending the high pay levels of charity chief executives, dismissing any furore as a “disgraceful distraction”.
Charities Commission chairman William Shawcross warned that large salaries could “bring the charitable world into disrepute” and should consider if big pay packets are “really appropriate”, after the Daily Telegraph reported that 30 staff at 14 top British foreign aid charities earned more than £100,000 last year.
Writing on his blog, Sir Stephen accused critics of charity boss pay packages of disliking how effective they were at campaigning.
“Let’s be clear on what is happening. Many MPs on the right hate effective charities who campaign. They particularly dislike international charities who have been so effective in raising the concerns of the world’s poor," he wrote.
“So let’s be robust in defending pay. What I am particularly angry about is that this risks giving the impression that all charities pay 100k salaries. So in effect Mr Shawcross risks bringing the sector into disrepute by this attack.”