Charity pay defender Sir Stephen Bubb’s organisation helped to pay for his 60th birthday party
One of the staunchest defenders of boardroom excess at Britain’s top charities used his organisation, which is funded by fees from the UK’s charities, to help pay for his 60th birthday party in the Houses of Parliament.
By Christopher Hope, Senior Political Correspondent
10:00PM BST 08 Aug 2013
Sir Stephen Bubb at his 60th birthday party held at the Palace of Westminster
Sir Stephen Bubb, the chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, organised the party last November.
Executives from some of the country’s top charities along with ministers helped him celebrate the milestone in a room at the House of Lords.
Writing on his blog Sir Stephen boasted how he had received messages from Labour leader Ed Miliband a card from Tony and Cherie Blair ahead of the party.
However it has now emerged that the event – which is thought to have cost over £1,000 – was part funded by Acevo, which is funded by membership fees from more than 1,500 chief executives or directors from the UK’s top charities.
Writing on his blog Sir Stephen – who is thought to be paid over £100,000 a year – had said that it “seemed just right to celebrate my 60th with a tea party in the House of Lords on Monday!”
He boasted how “an eclectic mix of family and friends, Acevo members, parliamentarians, churchmen, media, old college pals, trade unionists, Baronesses, cabinet ministers gathered to celebrate with me.
“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.
“Tony’s nice note was rather touching ‘thanks for your fantastic contribution to the nation and its voluntary sector’.”
Sir Stephen, a former Labour councillor, made a joke about David Cameron, saying ‘I think the PM’s card got lost when he posted it in Dubai!’
He added: “Baroness Hayter, an old friend from Young Fabian days, and an Acevo Founding member gave a welcome speech to which I responded; a mercifully short contribution!
“It was good to have a wide number of my distant cousins present; from Union Hall in Ireland, from Devon and from Kent.
“And obviously you need a birthday cake! This one baked by Martha in Brixton; Caribbean rum soaked fruit cake!”
He told how the group then went “back to my house on Brixton Hill for champagne and fireworks.
“I grew up with a firework party every year; in those days always on the 5th and not at weekends as now. I’m afraid my garden can’t quite take a bonfire and Guy now!”
Acevo confirmed that the organisation paid for half of the cost, and that Sir Stephen had “paid half the cost personally”.
A spokesman said: “This was a tea party, no alcohol was provided and Sir Stephen arranged his own birthday cake.”
The spokesman justified spending donors’ money on the event because it “part of its on-going work in building stakeholder relationships”.
She added: “Acevo invited its members, parliamentarians and cabinet ministers, national media and other key partners to an event at the House of Lords to mark the 60th birthday of Acevo’s long standing Chief Executive.
“It was an entirely fitting recognition of Sir Stephen’s outstanding contribution to the charity sector and a valuable contribution to Acevo’s work representing charities to Westminster.”
The disclosures are embarrassing for Sir Stephen, who reacted strongly against research in Tuesday’s Telegraph which found that executives receiving six-figure salaries at Britain’s 14 leading foreign aid charities, and the organisations which support them, rose by nearly 60 per cent from 19 to 30 over three years, while donations and revenues were down in many cases.
The figures prompted William Shawcross, the chairman of the Charity Commission, to accuse the charities of bringing “the wider charitable world into disrepute” by accepting large pay rises.
Justine Greening, the International Development secretary, added that the Telegraph’s revelations were “a clarion call for charities to be more open about value for money”.
But Sir Stephen accused those who question executive pay of hating good causes, and questioned the agenda of Miss Patel, who helped with the research.
Writing on his blog, Sir Stephen said: “Let’s just notice who was one of those behind, this story in the Telegraph: Priti Patel, Tory MP.
“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.
“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.”