Wednesday 21 March 2018

Charity chiefs face salary cap in bid to stop litany of waste

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

HIGHLY PAID chief executives of disability charities face salary caps after a damning report revealed huge wastage in the sector -- meaning thousands of dependants are losing out.

The review examined how 60 different charities and voluntary organisations spend money allocated by the State, and how they are managed.

These organisations get most of the €1.5bn in taxpayers' money each year to provide residential and day care for people with intellectual disabilities.

The Irish Independent revealed earlier this year that officials compiling the report were blocked when they tried to ascertain what secret top-up payments chief executives -- already earning €150,000 -- were getting as bonuses.

And the long-awaited 'Value for Money' report, commissioned by the Department of Health, has revealed massive overspending on wages.

It found:

• Chief executives of agencies getting more than half their funding from the State should not earn more than €150,000.

• Pay costs are absorbing up to 85pc of annual budgets and there is an over-reliance on well-paid skilled staff, such as nurses, to do work which could be done by lower-paid carers. Even a 10pc change in the staff mix could save €3.5m in wages.

• Extra payments for night duty and weekends are now regarded as in-built parts of staff income because of a failure to properly implement cost-saving rostering.

• Up to 20pc of the pay bill for some staff is taken up in allowances, arrears and night-duty costs.

• The agencies spend €23m on transport-related costs but there is a lack of tendering to get the best value.

• Management and administration costs can be over 20pc in some charities.

• Several of the bodies are tied into paying public-service salary rates, including increments.

The report also found there is no consistency among agencies in the cost of providing a service for a person with the same level of disability.

There was a variation of 42pc between the lowest and the highest annual cost of providing a high-support residential place. The highest cost was in the south at €177,388 compared to €126,264 in Dublin. Each charity has been told to do an urgent examination of its costs.

The report also found that people with a disability should be given more of a say over the type of service they want. It said the Government should move to a system of individualised budgeting, where the persons with a disability -- or their carers -- are given the funding and they can chose to buy the kind of service they want.

Irish Independent

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