Leonard Cheshire Disability’s CEO Clare Pelham on poverty

Clare Pelham had this to say in Leonard Cheshire’s annual accounts 2014-2015:

Disabled people are more likely to be living in poverty and less likely to have savings than most. The pressures on social care funding available to councils in this country have increased and this has affected many disabled people.

She ought to know about poverty; after all, she’s only paid between £140,000 and £150,000 per year. She is one of 25 staff earning more than £60,000 – none of whom are directly engaged in the core activity of providing personal care and support to disabled people. Indeed, the number of staff in the charity earning £100,000 or more actually increased this year. To put that in context, MPs’ salaries are £67,060.

The report also lists the following risk and mitigation: (my emphasis)

Rising wages costs and our ambition to pay all staff at least the Living Wage could impact the financial sustainability of some or all of the Charity’s operations
  1. Annual increases in our fees requested from commissioners to offset the cost of wage increases and to support our efforts to work towards paying the Living Wage.
  2. Annual budget and business planning cycle.


This is perhaps progress, because even though Clare Pelham had this to say in September last year:

At the very least we should celebrate care as a wonderful career choice with great training; and nothing less than a living-wage should be acceptable.

the charity continues to pay its carers less than the living wage. They claim it’s because commissioners don’t pay them enough:

Commissioners are working under increasing financial pressure, so in many cases achieving living wage rates is not possible immediately

Yet until I kicked off about this in January, they’d not asked any commissioners to pay more so they could pay carers the living wage – and even now they’ve only recently written to a small proportion of commissioners to start the conversation. (At least I’ve forced them to go through the motions.)

In fact, the company reduced their spending on staff wages by over £2,000,000 in financial year 2014-2015 compared to 2013-2014, despite receiving an increased income of over £1,000,000 from fees paid by councils, part of their £7,500,000 overall increase in income. (£6,000,000 of the increased income is sat in their bank accounts – Goodness knows where the rest is.)  Check their annual reports and accounts (PDF file) – hold your nose to get past the odious self-congratulatory bollocks in the first half of the report; their figures for income are on p64, staff costs on p91, and the salaries of their most senior employees on p92.

One wonders if the reflection in their annual report may indeed by correct. It’s my view that they don’t give a stuff about their low wages to carers; they are only interested in appearing to give a stuff about their carers’ pay, and they don’t view the living wage as something to aspire to but as a threat to their business model.