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Charity begins at home – for David Milliband at least

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David Miliband – trousering large wages 

Former Foreign Secretary David Miliband earns almost three times more than the British prime minister in his role as head of a refugee charity in New York, it has been revealed.

The Blairite ex-Labour MP earns $600,000 (£425,000) annually for working a 37-and-a-half hour week as president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, according to journalist Sebastian Shakespeare of the Daily Mail.

Miliband’s pay has been declared publicly for the first time at the Charities Bureau in New York, where his organization is based.

The International Rescue Committee recently received a $500,000 (£335,000) donation from British comedian and film star Sacha Baron Cohen and his actress wife, Isla Fisher.

Miliband called their gift a “great expression of humanity” at the time, although the figure is not big enough to cover his wages for a single year.

Though extreme this is not an isolated example. The pay of some senior charity staff has rightly been under fire in the past few years. William Shawcross, chair of the Charity Commission, has said that “disproportionate” salaries could bring charities into disrepute, and a report by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations urged charities to be more open about pay levels and how they are set. Public criticism of charities who pay too much does seem to have an effect. Oxfam, Christian Aid and several other members of the Disasters Emergency Committee that were singled out for criticism by The Daily Telegraph in July 2013 and appear to have exercised greater restraint since.

Pat Harrington, Director of the Third Way think-tank commented: “The level of this wage, paid by a charity seeking public donations, is obscene. People of goodwill who donate their hard earned cash to charities need to look at how their money is being spent. They need to avoid giving money to charities who pay excessive wages to their staff or too high a percentage of income on administration. There is clearly a dissonance between the emotional appeals we see asking for our money and the hard-headed pocketing of large wages by people like Miliband.”

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