Monday, November 15, 2010

Would it be cheaper to just give the money to charity?

In a letter to the Hunts Post Cllr Dutton, Chairman of HDC, informed us that "a large part of his role was raising money for charity". I therefore sent in a Freedom of Information request about this role and how much is raised by previous Chairmen and the cost of raising this money.

What surprised me is how little is actually raised. Over 2 years Cllr Swales £4200 or £2100 a year. In the next 2 years the Cllr Davies raised £1183 or £591.50 a year. Now the Chairman doesn't actually organise the fundraising. It is up to his "Office" or part share of a Personal Assistant who actually organises these events. This is using Council resources to raise money or Council Taxpayers money to raise money for Charity.

The total cost (Salary, Employer NI, Employer Pension, Office costs, Management costs) of the PA must be about £50,000. Even if only 5 % of the time was used to organise these charity events this would equate to £2500 a year. So it could cost £2500 a year to raise £2100 or £591.50. This is a waste of Council taxpayers money for the ego of the Chairman. I'm not trying to stop giving to charity but wouldn't it be cheaper for the Council to give £1000 a year. Even if this is illegal the Chairman receives an allowance of £7600. Why not use this. Or each Councillor gives £25 to the Chairman's Charity. Far cheaper methods raising money.

It is a pity that HDC is in the throws of making massive cuts that it doesn't know how much raising money for Charity is costing the Council Taxpayer. What services will be cut because the Chairman wants to raise money for Charity? Is this the right priority!


Reply from HDC to my FOI request:

You requested: “For each of the last 3 financial years how much has been raised for each of the designated charities in each year.

Further, I understand the Chairman's Office organises these charity events.

I therefore request, for the last financial year, the cost of organising and running of these charity events in staff and/or officer time. Also to include any other costs associated with the running of these charity events.”

You are correct in stating that, each year, the Chairman of the Council nominates one or more charities and raises funds for them as part of the civic events that are organised throughout his or her term of office.  This is not part of the Chairman’s official duties nor within the terms of reference of the chairman of the authority.  It is therefore a matter for the discretion of individual Chairmen.

The information that you have requested is not available for each financial year as the municipal year runs from May when a new Chairman is elected at the Council’s annual meeting.  Traditionally, a Chairman is re-elected for a second term of office and occupies the position therefore for 2 years. 

Councillor P Swales who was Chairman from May 2006 to May 2008 donated the proceeds of events to the following charities –

£2,000 – Mid Anglia MS Society (Huntingdon)
£500 – Salvation Army (Kings Ripton)
£1500 – Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital (London)
£200 – Huntingdon and District Sea Cadets

Councillor J W Davies who was Chairman from May 2008 to May 2010 donated the proceeds of events to the following charities –

£361 – St John Ambulance (Huntingdon)
£361 – Macmillan Cancer Support (St Neots)
£361 – Magpas (St Ives)
£100 – Army Cadet Force (St Ives)

With regard to your second question, the Chairman of the Council does not have ‘an Office’. He shares a P.A. with one of the Council’s Heads of Service and that person assists with his diary planning, attendance at civic functions, organisation of events etc. 

Turning to the last of your questions, the Chairman’s P.A. does not record her time against the various tasks that she undertakes for him.  No information is therefore available as to the cost of any staff time spent in arranging events or functions.  With regard to other costs incurred in the past municipal year, the principal fund raising event was a charity ball.  The income from ticket sales etc. was £6,056.92, the expenditure was £4,871.76 and the balance was donated to charities.

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