Friday, April 15, 2016

Hourly Rates of Pay for Locum Solicitors and Legal Executives April 2016 Update

Locum hourly rate payment varies widely according to the demand, length of assignment, level of experience and advance notice available. NB: These rates are intended as a guide only. Hourly rates can vary according to the location, duration and level of expertise. They are sourced from our work through and dealing with a range of locum assignments across the UK.

April 2016 Private Practice Law Firm Locum Rates:


* Conveyancing Locum Solicitors – 1-3 years PQE, handling residential standard sale price only – £28-30 per hour (variation for central London – £29-33 per hour).
* Conveyancing Locum Solicitors & ILEX – 5-35 years PQE, handling all levels of conveyancing including managing a department – £30-£40 per hour, including central London.
* Commercial Property Solicitors – 1-40 years PQE - £35-45 per hour.
* Wills & Probate Solicitors and Executives – 3-35 years PQE – £35-40 per hour.
* Family Solicitors – 4-40 years PQE – £25-30 per hour. Occasionally this goes up to £35 per hour for short notice or a few days cover.
* Civil Litigation – 1-35 years PQE. £25-35 per hour. These rates cover mainstream litigation – eg county court and small claims matters.
* Corporate Commercial Locum Solicitors - 5-45 years PQE. £35-75 per hour. Usual rate in small-medium law firms is around £40-50 per hour.
* In House Locum Solicitors - 3-35 years PQE. £35-60 per hour. Usual rate in a larger sized blue chip company legal department is c.£50 per hour.

NB all rates exclude agency fees. If you use Interim Lawyers/Ten-Percent Legal we charge 18% of the rates and bill you monthly. The rates are for self-employed locums billing firms directly on a weekly basis.
Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment provides online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database. 

Lawyers identified as high earners by the BBC - surely some mistake?

Recently the BBC did a study on salaries to be expected by graduates entering the different professions ( - this was in the context of analysing how much junior doctors were paid. Lawyers came out top and the BBC gave an average starting salary of £37k.

This week the Law Society Gazette have given exposure to a pretty obvious press release from an investment company, Bower Cotton, who had done a far reaching study of c.100 lawyers to determine that over 40% were going to rely on property to fund their retirement. I suspect that the press release has been copied word for word into the Gazette! The article also refers to it being possible for lawyers to be 'amongst the top earners' and having a good amount to invest.

Both of these are strong evidence of either a high level of ignorance or a total lack of interest in checking facts before producing articles. Quite how the BBC got to the average they did in their article is not clear. Working with hundreds of smaller sized and fairly normal/average solicitors firms gives us the awareness that the majority of lawyers will not have seen salaries similar to those quoted in the article in the first 5 years of their career.

Furthermore, the vast majority of private practice solicitors are not going to be amongst the top earners. Most are more likely to be extremely average - £30-40k is the expected level of salary for most solicitors working on the high street in law firms throughout their careers. It is unclear whether many lawyers have undertaken any retirement planning at all. What do you do to gain an income on retirement if your monthly income is too low to do much more than pay the mortgage and keep the family fed and in clothes?

I am not sure who has a vested interest in promoting the high salary figures, which in my experience only apply to large national law firms or London City law firms. Providers of the Legal Practice Course and the LLB? The profession generally? After all it benefits us all to have the pool of applicants as large as possible in order to keep salaries low.

I look forward to the day when I read an article that starts "Revealed - most lawyers earn less than teachers and police officers - contrary to popular opinion".
Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment provides online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

▪ The Cooperative Bank & Legal Services and a slick sales demo

The Co-operative Bank, Co-operative Legal Services - an amazing demonstration of subliminal referrals

An elderly relative has recently died in our family and I rang the Co-operative Bank to ask them what information they required from the family in order to remove a name from a joint account.

I called the main bank number and explained I was simply making an enquiry about name removal. The operative asked me for the bank account number in question and a bit more information about the deceased. I gave them this and was advised that I would be put through to the probate team who would be able to advise me.

After waiting for about 5 minutes I spoke to someone I thought was in the bank's probate department who advised me that I simply needed to take a certified copy of the death certificate into a local branch or post it to head office. He then advised me that he just needed to take a few more details from me for their "Bank Notification Scheme" and that it shouldn't take more than a few minutes. I agreed to this, but suddenly remembered a letter in the Law Society Gazette some time ago from a solicitor who had experienced something similar and asked who I was speaking to. A referral presumably had occurred because I was informed that no longer was I speaking to the Cooperative Bank but instead I was communicating with the Cooperative Legal Services.

This was of course the standalone Cooperative Legal Services ABS and I had been referred to it! I hung up immediately, fairly shocked that in such a delicate time the Cooperative, an organisation priding itself on its ethical approach to customers, had attempted this subterfuge on me.

I really had no idea that this had happened - neither operative indicated that my query was being handed over to a separate law firm (which is in essence what the Cooperative Legal Services is) and I can only presume that after about 10 minutes of taking information from me the operative would have finally advised me that I was speaking to him about using their probate service and provided me with a quote for this. As it happened I already knew that probate was not required - the elderly relative in question had no assets - and I had not at any time been asked to consent to being transferred through the law firm or indeed asked a question about probate.

It is a good example of how referrals can be made. So many marketing gurus go on and on about cross-referrals within organisations - highlighting the services of a litigation department to wealthy property purchasers with senior positions in business is but one example.

The Cooperative, it appears, have taken this approach to another level... Very cynical marketing I think - well below the level one would expect from an ethical business..

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment provides online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database. 

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Large Company buys up loads of law firms, attempts to take over the high street law market - and fails. Quelle surprise?

Hmm. Slater & Gordon are struggling - job losses, share value dropping, company turnover plummeting.. Our local radio station seems to have stopped playing adverts mentioning the local law firm brand aged 100 years+ with the added catchphrase "part of Slater & Gordon".

Is this going to be a new competition? Guess how long the new legal market entrant is going to last?

When are large multinationals and organisations going to realise that high street law is profitable to a certain degree but seemingly very dependent on a relatively small scale operation?

Anyone remember the bulk conveyancing operations of the 1990s and 2000s? Barnetts in Southport is a good example. The senior partner there seemed to be the Law Society Gazette favourite whenever a quote was needed on modernising the way high street law firms worked. He was forever commenting on how profitable everyone could be if only they looked to the future. Now look at them - RIchard Barnett was struck off for using a loan to pay off his firm's overdraft in a desperate effort to stay afloat.

So many worries about Tescos Law - Quality Solicitors setting up in WH Smiths, the Cooperative Legal Services division expanding, the AA and even Stobarts trucking have all had a go. Have they been lured in by very inaccurate media reports of fat cat solicitors raking it in from legal aid and volume conveyancing/personal injury operations?

Who is going to be next - perhaps Sainsburys could take over a large regional law firm and attempt to conquer the world?

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment provides online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database. 

Independent Schools, Solicitors and Manipulated Statistics?

The Sutton Trust, a foundation with the aim of encouraging more state educated school children to attend better quality universities and reach the higher echelons of society, has published a report in the last few days. It has concluded that 74% of judges, 71% of barristers and 51% of solicitors went to independent schools, with 78% of barristers and 55% of solicitors going to Oxbridge.

I have to pick fault with this research - when you look at the sources of information used by the Sutton Trust to determine these figures they have basically been through the Chambers Directory. Great. The report seems to have been penned by an academic, but the selective nature of the report makes wonderful headlines but is almost certainly inaccurate to a wide extreme. Damned lies and statistics and all that.

There are over 110,000 solicitors in the UK. How many of these are in the Chambers Directory? Does Chambers really list the elite solicitors in the profession? I remember being in practice and our firm being listed. This seemed to consist of a researcher calling round firms in the local area and those firms expressing an opinion on who the best firm was for a particular field of law. If they had asked me this I would have almost certainly given the name of the firm most unlikely to affect my business interests!

The real motivation behind the report seems to be to maintain funding for The Sutton Trust's projects at getting more students from disadvantaged backgrounds into larger sized solicitors firms... However these firms traditionally select students on a range of criteria concentrating mainly on extremely high academic achievement plus a good mix of extra curricular activities/sports. Chances are that if you are likely to achieve strong academic grades you are going to be at a good university like Oxford/Cambridge and not at the Polytechnic of Westmoreland...
Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment provides online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database. 

Monday, February 01, 2016

Visiting Two Charities on Merseyside - The First Step and Centre 63

Centre 63 and The First Step - charities supported by the Ten-Percent Foundation

The two trustees of the Ten-Percent Foundation (the charitable trust linked to Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and responsible for distributing the annual 10% donation of profits) visited a couple of charities in North West England today. Both are within an hours drive of our company head office in Mold and we have supported them in the past.

We have made a decision to look at developing long term funding for both charities and so went to meet the charities to discuss how and what we can assist with.

Both charities fit our spending criteria as follows:

  1. The charity deals with a range of work that appeals to us.
  2. The charity has no ulterior motive – eg religious teachings or political leanings.
  3. The charity appears to do some good and does not just hoard money or spend it frivolously.
  4. The charity pays its staff a reasonable and not excessive level of remuneration.
We went to visit them to discuss criteria 3 and find out exactly what the charities do. The Ten-Percent Foundation has decided to provide £2,500 of funding per year to both organisations for the next 5 years.

Centre 63

Jonathan Fagan, MD of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment with Jeane Lowe, Manager of Centre 63
Centre 63 is a youth centre based in the centre of Kirkby, Merseyside. Kirkby is essentially a suburb left over from the days when Liverpool Council was involved in slum clearances and built a whole new district in the fields some miles north of Liverpool. It is extremely deprived (it has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country), and perhaps most famous for a recent battle with Tescos, who wanted to demolish the entire town centre and build a massive new superstore together with a football ground for Everton!

Set up in 1963 (hence the name), the centre acts as a hub for a number of different projects. However the main focus of the centre is the ethos of providing overall support. Jeane Lowe, the manager of Centre 63 (she has been there for over 25 years) gave one example of the type of person assisted - a teenager who had left school without formal qualifications (somewhat common in Kirkby) and lacking any self-esteem. She mentioned to staff that she was very conscious of being overweight, so the centre paid for her to go to the local gym for 3 months (this was monitored). The centre also assisted her to get Maths and English GCSE qualifications. After 3 months she  decided to get a qualification as a lifeguard and subsequently finished up working at the local David Lloyd centre as a lifeguard. Now she is seeking to do further qualifications and progress her career further with the company.

Another example of the type of service the centre offers is the advice line, which rather than providing advice actually gives practical support (something legal aid lawyers will only too well remember from days when Green Form/Legal Help assistance was available and quick & effective action could be rendered). The centre will proactively assist people with a whole range of issues - they have just managed to get FCA registered for debt advice - so for example they will help someone who is struggling with the rent, not getting the right benefits, lacking furniture, not able to get a landlord to make essential repairs, checking out child care to enable search for work, providing equipment, arranging for new fixtures and fittings to be put in. The charity has strong links with local companies and uses locally sourced furniture, carpets and curtains etc.. wherever possible.

The centre provides assistance to new tenants - trying to ensure they do not instantly get into debt and help to equip a property - eg sofa, carpet, curtains, kitchen implements etc.. etc.. They will go through benefits and ensure that the person is getting everything they ought to be and then look at help with child care. A soft approach is taken towards getting users to look at work opportunities through a volunteer project and also to get onto actual training courses that could lead onto further education or a career in the longer term.

The centre operates as a youth club as well - with children aged between 8 and 16 using the facilities. They also work with youths up to 18 years old through their music project, although that is in between funding/managers when we visited. Quite a bit of space within the building is sublet to other charities and organisations - a bike repair shop is opening shortly, the Princes Trust are upstairs together with Connexions, and the car park and garage is sublet to a car valeting business, set up by a user of the centre and paying rent back into the charity.

Our funding of £2,500 per year for the next 5 years (subject to recessions, property collapses and general disasters etc..) will pay for the charity to maintain its IT equipment. The charity seems extremely good at getting grants from various larger sources of funding - eg National Lottery, Children in Need and the Rank Foundation - but a lot of these places require the charity to be in place and operating its own back office. The current equipment is looking a little dated, and we hope that our funding will assist in keeping this going.. We particularly like the practical action

A lot of charities in the area have struggled to survive in recent years and closed down. Centre 63 is still there - alive and kicking - and we hope it continues in the future. It always amazes me how much time is spent making applications for grants by some of these organisations, which then have to be spent in particular ways. It is a shame there are not more funding arrangements that just let charities get on with doing the job to hand - ie supporting the youth of Kirkby, a very much ignored age group in a forgotten area of the country...

You can find out more about Centre 63 at 

If you want to donate to the work of the Centre please contact them directly.

The First Step

Jonathan Fagan of Ten-Percent with Angela Cholet, CEO of The First Step
The First Step, in a few sentences, is a domestic violence project based in Kirkby and working with victims/survivors and perpetrators of domestic violence across the region. They provide refuge facilities for women and children, training for professionals who may come across domestic violence in their work (345 people in 2015), a perpetrator course and individual support and advice. 46 women and 58 children were assisted via the refuge in 2015. One of the main differences this charity has to others in the same field is that they believe passionately in the need to focus more on the perpetrators instead of solely concentrating on the victims. Angela Cholet, the Chief Executive, spoke of the need to recognise that dealing with domestic violence is not just about ticking boxes to say that someone has been extracted from a situation and is now 'out of it', but rather to look at addressing the behaviour of the instigator of the domestic violence and deal with that. Problems abound with trying to ensure that women stay away from abusive men. A lot of perpetrators of domestic violence are charming, manipulative and very difficult to deal with. Its always easier to deal with victims, who by the very nature of their position often have low self-esteem and are simpler for the professionals dealing with families to manage.

As benefit changes kick in, dealing with families experiencing domestic violence gets so much more difficult. It seems that a lot of the reforms being undertaken after Ian Duncan-Smith's 'Universal Credit' have had unforeseen consequences. For example in the case of a woman leaving the family home and seeking help the benefits will be paid into a shared account and she will have to start the application process all over again from scratch.

We have decided to commit £2,500 of funding per year for the next 5 years to go towards the costs of running the perpetrator course. This is a course not linked to the probation service (ie not a 'complete the course or go to prison' type operation). It takes referrals from community organisations as well as self-referrals from men who have recognised the need to get help. 50% of applicants are rejected following an initial assessment - the course is only suitable for men who are actually able to recognise their behaviour and the need for change. The course lasts for 26 weeks and is no quick fix. One of the most striking examples of the behavioural change is the need for course participants to call their partners by their names, other than "her", "it" and much worse. Something so simple yet shocking.. The average length of time waiting for a place on the course is 2 weeks, which is quite astonishing in this day and age. 88 men attended for assessment in 2015. The charity also get in touch with the (ex) partners of all the men on the course so that they are aware of the attendance and also to provide support. Over 80% of women who have partners or ex-partners who have completed the course say that they feel safer at the end of it.

You can find out more about The First Step by visiting their website

You can also donate to the charity by visiting

We hope to have the full list of donations for 2016 up on the website shortly. I also hope to write a bit about each charity we have funded. This is in the hope that others can see how we make decisions and that it is possible to donate to charities where chief executives are not paid more than the Prime Minister and a difference can be made with small amounts of money.

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Choosing Charities to Donate Money to without supporting high salaries and administration costs

Choosing a charity to donate hard earned money to is not a particularly easy task. Every year the trustees of the Ten-Percent Foundation sit down to work out how to distribute our funds to worthy causes. The Ten-Percent Foundation is a charitable trust linked to Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. Every year the company donates 10% of its profits to charity via the Foundation. There are two trustees and we determine how to spend the money, which is usually aimed at charities in the UK and Africa together with locally based sports organisations. 

This article would be of interest to all those people who feel strongly about donating money to charity that actually makes a difference. It sets out the decisions made by the charity’s trustees on a number of causes and how we came to make those decisions. We wrote an article last year detailing the top paid staff at charities and it is one of our most popular and commented on articles on the Legal Recruitment Blog. 

NB: none of charities in the article have specifically asked for funding from the Ten-Percent Foundation, although War Child was nominated to receive a donation by one of our candidates. We asked each charity for information on how they determine senior pay. War Child responded but the others failed to do so. 

NB 2: This report is available as a pdf download by clicking the link here:

For donations, the Ten-Percent Foundation has preset criteria as follows: 

  1. The charity deals with a range of work that appeals to us.
  2. The charity has no ulterior motive – eg religious teachings or political leanings.
  3. The charity appears to do some good and does not just hoard money or spend it frivolously.
  4. The charity pays its staff a reasonable and not excessive level of remuneration. For us the level is £75,000 as an absolute maximum. We do not believe a charity, which by definition is dependent on donations and support from the general public, should be paying staff a higher salary than this level and we would only ever expect to see 1 or 2 members of staff on salaries of more than £60,000 in very large charities.
    Charities that Interest or Appeal to us
The trustees of the Ten-Percent Foundation are interested in the following types of charity or worthy cause: 

  1. Charities that support small tangible projects in Africa.
  2. Charities that deal with poverty and the effects of poverty in the UK.
  3. Specific support for the education of children in Africa.
  4. Support for stammering and in particular children affected by speech impediments.
  5. Support for people who have Parkinsons.
  6. Support for people who have had a stroke.
  7. Charities working with ex-offenders.
  8. Charities with links to the legal profession (we work in the legal sector).
  9. Charities dealing with victims (and perpetrators of) domestic violence.
  10. Charities dealing with youth work in areas particularly affected by poverty.
  11. Animal conservation – in particular third world conservation.
  12. Charities saving the rainforest by purchasing it. 
  13. Local sports clubs and organisations.

Charities that do not have an ulterior motive
Although one of the two trustees of the Ten-Percent Foundation is a vicar in the Church of England, we do not donate to charities that have a religious purpose to them. In fact we specifically shy away from them. We donate to charities linked to churches and religious organisations, mainly because they are very often responsible for running really good and worthy causes. 
There is a way of ensuring that the donation goes towards non-religious services or items, and that is to make a restricted donation. For example, we will donate to at least three charities linked to the Church of England and the Catholic Church, but all of these donations will be restricted and a specification made as to what the donation can be used for. For example one of the donations will be restricted solely to the maintenance of kitchen, laundry and washroom facilities for a charity linked to the Catholic Church but providing a very well regarded service to the homeless in South West London. 

Charities that do not just hoard money or spend frivolously
Charities that pay staff reasonable and not excessive remuneration 

We have lumped these two criteria together because this is the main part of this article and the two are interlinked.
There are four specific examples of charities we have been thinking about donating to this year and tried to explain our reasoning for not donating. We have included extracts from the charity accounts, taken from the Charity Commission’s website. Most of these are 2014 accounts.

The Parkinson’s Disease Society (Parkinsons UK)
The first is the Parkinson’s Disease Society. Parkinson’s Disease is a horrible debilitating illness that at the moment has no cure. A former trustee of the charity suffers from the disease, and in the past we have donated to the Society. 
When we consider a charity now we look at the annual accounts to see what has been happening.
Parkinsons UK (as the society is now known) had income of just over £22.5 million in 2014. Legacies account for £11 million and donations & memberships make up £8.2 million. Total costs generating funds were £6.2 million, making a total of £16.28 million available for charitable application. 

So in effect just over 75% of the donations made to Parkinsons UK are eaten up in costs. 

The charity spends just under £13 million on employee costs including pensions. There are 337 staff at the charity. Just 13 of these are involved in research, which was a surprise to us. 


Four of the staff at the charity earned £70,000-£80,000 salaries in 2014, two earnt £80,000 to £90,000 and one earnt £110,000 to £120,000. Pension contributions on these staff in 2014 were £53,100.

This means that out of total income of £22.5 million, which remember includes £8.2 million of donations and membership, the charity is paying out just over £600,000 to just 7 members of staff. This equates to 7% of the donations being made to the charity. 

13 trustees of the charity claimed travel and subsistence expenses at a cost of £20,940. It is not clear from the accounts how many times in a year the trustees meet. 

Our Decision: we will not donate to Parkinsons UK as we do not think the charity passes criteria 3 and 4. The salaries being paid are way above anything we would expect to see and the charity appears to spend the vast majority of donations on remunerating its staff. Furthermore the trustees appear to have claimed quite a considerable amount in travel and subsistence. Naturally whether or not this is excessive depends on how many meetings they have been required to attend in a year. 

We asked Parkinsons UK for information on how they reach a decision on pay structures for senior executive staff. We received no reply.

We also like donating to charities with a legal connection. This year we considered (amongst others) Amnesty International and the Solicitors Benevolent Fund. 

The Solicitors Benevolent Fund
The aim of the Solicitors Benevolent Fund is to provide relief and assistance for persons in need who are or who have been admitted to the Roll of Solicitors for England and Wales. Relates also to partners of solicitors. Financial assistance is via a grant or a loan.
The SBA has a partnership with LawCare, a charity we support, and also two partnerships with an employment agency specialising in CV coaching and an insolvency practice.  The employment agency appears to have provided 15 beneficiaries with careers advice and 8 received advice on insolvency.
The total income was £1.95 million, with £154,700 of this being donations and subscriptions. 

The charity appears to have an investment portfolio worth £14.7 million and secured loans to beneficiaries of £4.1 million.
The amount of work the charity has undertaken is as follows:
Ten trustees of the charity have claimed their travel costs - £6,389.
The work undertaken by the charity during the year appears to have been to make arrangements for grants totalling about £600k.
We then checked the remuneration of staff information. 


One employee received a package worth £80,000 to £90,000 in 2014.
The charity employed one person to deal with the welfare, one person to deal with fundraising and two administration and management employees. One of these was the chief executive, Tim Martin. His salary in 2014 was £76,875 with additional benefits totalling £9,297 plus a £2,000 bonus. 

Our decision: We will not donate to the SBA. Our assessment is that they fail on criteria 4 and our reasoning is below.

  1. We feel that the Chief Executive is earning a salary considerably higher than just about every employed solicitor in a similar sized solicitors practice in England and Wales with c.5-10 employees.
  2. The vast majority of this charity’s income appears to be coming from guaranteed or pretty safe sources – investment income, secured loans and residual balances from client accounts. £154k of donations is not a large amount.
  3. In relation to the salary, this is a charity servicing the legal profession, and I would guess that a large chunk of the beneficiaries are from outside the London city firm bubble and hence receive average salaries.
  4. Most high street solicitors with 10+ years experience earn about £40,000-£50,000 throughout their career. At partner level this can admittedly increase, but the partners are in business and take a risk that is rewarded by the commercial return. Charities do not have the same risk, particularly those with investments and/or external funding.
  5. The charity appears to be effectively outsourcing work to other parties, eg LawCare. Quite why a charity of this size and with such resources needs to expend such a large proportion of it on one member of staff when most of the work seems to be external is an interesting question. We calculate the salary of the chief executive to be 4.5% of the total income of the charity in 2014 and 57% of donations received during the year.

No doubt the SBA does extremely worthy and valuable work within the profession, but we feel that it yet again highlights the endemic problem within the charity sector – where do these salaries come from? How does a charity determine that it should spend so much of its income on its staff?
We asked the SBA for information on how they reach a decision on pay structures for senior executive staff. We received no reply.

Amnesty International
Amnesty is a charity the trustees admire and are keen to support.
In 2014 their total income was as follows:

Most of their income comes from donations, and a significant proportion of these are from individuals. The Amnesty charity is somewhat confusing because it appears to have other branches/charities linked to it with related costs. 
Employees at the charity cost £1.382 million.
Naturally the biggest part of Amnesty’s work requires a considerable amount of staffing, hence the costs. There were the equivalent of 31 full time staff at the charity in 2014.
5 of these staff received income of £352,218 excluding pension contributions, which Amnesty do not publish in their accounts.
This means that 26 full staff equivalents were receiving £1.03 million between them, which makes the average wage at Amnesty £39,607.00.
No trustees claimed travel costs etc.. in 2014.  

Our decision: Reluctantly we will not donate to Amnesty International. We find that they fail on criteria 4. Not just one member of staff but five are receiving salaries at a high level. For a charity of this size it is not clear why and how salaries have got to this level.
We asked Amnesty International for information on how they reach a decision on pay structures for senior executive staff. We received no reply.

Charities with links to Africa
We are very keen on supporting projects in Africa and came across a number of charities who seem very worthy of as much support as possible. One of these is War Child.  

War Child
War Child is a very worthy cause. They aim to help thousands of children caught up in war zones around the world. According to their last annual report, they worked in a range of countries including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq and Jordan. Some of the funding for War Child’s work in Afghanistan seems to come from the US government, which is interesting to say the least!
The charity seems very tightly run.
The vast majority of their income is derived from donations, together with grants from external organisations.
We took a look at their staffing levels. There are 30 employees in the UK plus many more overseas. War Child works with external organisations to deliver their projects as well.

However the charity appears to employ two members of staff out of the 30 on salaries of over £80,000, plus pension contributions on top for one of these.
When you look at the total cost of salaries, it would appear that 28 members of staff share £975,000 in salaries, which puts the average employee at War Child on a salary of £34,821.
The trustees of War Child do not claim any expenses at all.
Our decision: not to donate to War Child. We do not believe the charity fits criteria 4. 

The response from Sarah Welsh, Finance Director at War Child, to our request for information on how they reach the figures for senior executive pay is as follows: 

“Salaries for the Senior Management team are subject to the same approach as used for employees generally. The salary of the CEO is specifically approved annually at the April meeting of War Child’s Board of Directors. Every three years a salary scale review is undertaken, with the aim of ensuring that War Child UK is paying at the third (upper) quartile when compared to the relevant charity sector. This review takes account of market research into charity pay, either through paid or free mediums, together with a review of the results by the HR Manager and CEO.” 

Salary Comparisons
Here is a comparison for other sectors of pay:

  • Chief Constable of North Wales: £135,774 (responsible for 2,600 police officers and staff).
  • Hospital Consultant: £75,000 - £101,000 per annum, plus private work/overtime etc..
  • Chief Fire Officer of Staffordshire: £149,000.
  • Member of Parliament (to 2015): £67,060.
  • Average salary in the UK in 2014: £26,600.

To put a salary of £100,000 into figures, this is how it breaks down (courtesy of 

·      Net annual salary: £65,325.70   
·     Net monthly pay: £5,443.81       
·     Net weekly pay: £1,256.26          

It is also interesting how many charities have their headquarters in central London or thereabouts. May be a relocation out of an expensive area and into more regional locations could assist in keeping salaries and administrative costs lower?

Report of the Inquiry into Charity Senior Executive Pay

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations produced a report in 2013 looking into the pay of senior executives at charities in the UK.
The members of the inquiry panel included:
1.       the Chairman of the British Red Cross who pay salaries to staff as follows – albeit with a turnover of £261 million):
2 Deputy Chairman of the Citizens Advice Bureau who pay salaries to senior staff as follows:
(Interestingly neither the CAB or the Red Cross reimburse their trustees for any costs). 

The Chair of Save the Children, who pay salaries to senior staff as follows:

   Various lawyers and accountants from larger size commercial practices. By way of example, one of the members of the panel was a partner at Clifford Chance, a Magic Circle solicitors firm in central London who pay partners at least £300k per annum.

The conclusion of the panel was as follows:

No effort was made by the panel to indicate when remuneration became unacceptable, irresponsible or in danger of appearing to be completely contrary to the whole purpose of charity in the first place.


 (extracts from the Summary and Recommendations of the Panel). 

So the summary of the report basically puts the onus on trustees to determine pay and not any external body.

We have included details above on exactly who the members of the panel were because so many originate from the City of London bubble – where salaries in six figures are the norm. 

  • 91% of charities have no paid staff at all. However out of 161,000 charities and a £39 billion income, 533 charities received £19 billion of this.
  • Pay for senior executives in some charities seems to be disappearing off the top of the scale of a reasonable level of remuneration bearing in mind that a charity relies on the goodwill of someone else, usually unsuspecting members of the public.
  • The charity sector apparently provides employment for 800,000 people and the report of the panel above highlights this – indicating that this is a healthy contribution to society. Perhaps this is true – we should support charities and pay their staff because it keeps them in employment - a charitable aim in itself. Miners could probably have used the same argument in the 1980s…

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment provides online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals