McConville’s Gravy Train

Back in early April 2017 the Grenfell Action Group published a blog entitled “Untrust the Trust” that laid out our concerns about the apparent lack of moral compass marking the management and governance of the Westway Trust.

This article concluded that the Trust;

“…has become a morally corrupt and unhealthy proxy of RBKC that seeks to disenfranchise the residents of North Kensington and marginalise, rather than empower the local community. It appears to have morphed in recent years into a body that exists solely to collude with the Council’s gentrification of North Kensington while providing lucrative employment opportunities for its own senior management”.

On May 2nd 2017 the Westway Trust held a Public Forum to hear the myriad concerns of local residents. This meeting was convened largely as a result of community pressure and a member of the Grenfell Action Group used the opportunity to raise the subject of the grossly inflated salary commanded by Angela McConville as Chief Executive of the Trust.

It is understood that Ms McConville earns close to a mind boggling £120,000 per annum, therefore taking home a pay packet that is close to that of the Prime Minister of the UK. Our representitive at the Public Forum stated that in one of the poorest areas of the whole country it was obscene that the Chief Executive of this local charity should be paid so much and asked the Trust to justify their actions. Much to the surprise of all those attending the Chair of the Westway Trust Board, Alan Brown, refused to fully answer the legitimate concerns surrounding Ms McConville’s emolument and decided to ‘take one for the team’ by stating that if anyone should be criticised for how much money the Chief Executive is paid it should be Mr Brown himself as he was part of the decision making process that approved her outlandish pay packet.

The Grenfell Action Group believes that it is a sad fact that the Westway Trust seeks to exploit the local community by relying on the use of cheap labour and volunteers while using the Trust’s revenues to pay themselves hugley inflated salaries. A cursory look at the Westway Trust facebook page will reveal how much they rely on the good will of the local North Kensington community volunteering to carry out tasks for the Westway Trust. While McConville won’t get out of bed for less than close to £10,000 per month the Trust are willing to take advantage of the local workforce by offering employment opportuinities that appear to exploit employees and pay far less than the London Living Wage. A recent example of this was the attempt by the Trust to recruit a ‘creative producer‘ on a 12 month contract with a yearly salary of  just £4,600 and the successful applicant was expected to pay for their own advertising materials out of this measly sum!

While the Westway Trust feel free to abuse their position in this unashamedly crass manner they delight in paying themselves obscene amounts of money. The Grenfell Action Group challenges Angela McConville to justify her exorbitant salary on the evidence that we have produced below revealing the average earnings of charity chiefs around the UK .

“The median salary of charity chief executives last year was £55,500, according to the annual pay survey by charity leaders group Acevo, (the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations) demonstrating that charities have been ‘taking a responsible position on pay’……For charities with incomes of between £50,000 and £1m CEO salary was £42,210; for those with incomes of between £1m and £5m it was £61,938; for those with incomes of between £5m and £15m it was £80,000; and for those with incomes greater than £15m it was £105,000.”

To provide some additional context, other Chief Executives paid less than McConville include the CEO’s of Oxfam, Christian Aid, Sightsavers and the RSPB.

According to a strategic adviser for Oxfam CEO Mark Goldring;

‘…has a big job by any standards: multitasking between running a 700 shop retail chain, managing 5,000 employees and 20,000 volunteers, a £360m budget and ensuring the safety of staff in some of the riskiest places on earth”

Mr Goldring has a salary of £124k. That’s only around £4k more than the CEO of Westway Trust, Angela McConville, (who admittedly does also ensure the safety of her staff in one of the riskiest places on earth- Lol).

According to the same report McConville should be earning a yearly salary of around £80,000 as the Trust’s annual turnover is approx £7 million, according to their own accounts.  As we know she actually takes home approximately £120k. ie an entire workers wage MORE than the average for a charity with an income over £15 million.

At least the Westway Trust cannot be accussed of exploiting the pay difference between male and female Chief Executives that is so common elsewhere in the charity sector. The same article linked to this post has carried out research that identified;

“…a £10,000 gender gap in chief executive pay: the median salary for female respondents was £50,250; for men it was £60,000. Just under half (48 per cent) of respondents were female, up from 45 per cent last year, and women made up the majority of chief executives of smaller charities, but were much less represented in medium-sized and larger organisations”.

However, all is not rosy in the Westway garden on the issue of race. The ‘Third Sector’ article quoted above also unearthed some damning evidence regarding the lack of multi-cultural representation among the higher echelons of charity organisation management structures in the UK. It states;

“Most concerning in this year’s survey is the continued lack of progress towards a civil society leadership THAT IS MORE REPRESENTATIVE OF ITS WORKERS AND OF THE BENEFICIARIES IT SERVES. With 91.2 per cent of chief executive respondents stating their ethnicity as white, and 100 per cent of chairs surveyed saying the same, we have a long way to go.”

Anyone who has witnessed the composition of the Westway Trust Board and senior management cannot have failed to notice that it too is dominated by white, middle class professional males who cannot claim to be representitve of the diverse socio-economic and ethnic communities that inhabit the Westway area and North Kensington generally.

In this context the Westway Trust, an organisation that ought to be a multi-cultural beacon in the area….turns out to be just another among the many damp squibs. Sir Stephen Bubb, CEO of ACEVO (Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations), which speaks for charity leaders says “Our guidance is that good pay means charity staff, trustees, beneficiaries and donors agree it represents value for money.”

We have no reason to doubt that the other Trustees of the Westway Trust support the obscene salary that McConville is happy to pocket every month. Alan Brown (ex City banker) has openly admitted his role in supporting the pay scale of his Chief Executive. The Remuneration Committee that agreed the CEO’s remuneration package is likely also to have included Karen Bendell (fashion sales executive), Joanna Farquharson (solicitor) and James Caplin (corporate career coach). We would have to question the judgement, not to mention the street cred, of these individuals who have decided that McConville represents value for money. We would question also whether they have the knowledge wisdom or empathy to decide on behalf of the local community what true value really is.

It would be interesting to hear the staff and donor views on that…. and even more interesting to hear the view of the beneficiary herself – Ms McConville.

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