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Age UK – a charity? Maybe. But for whom? The elderly or Age UK’s bosses?

Yesterday a newspaper raised concerns over charity Age UK’s extremely close (£100,000 per year) association with a firm that sells rather expensive mobility scooters, allegedly through using exploitative “hard sell” techniques http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/10348383/Mobility-scooter-company-targets-pensioners-with-pressuring-sales-tactics.html

So I thought it might be worth shining just a little (possibly unwelcome) light on Age UK’s financial affairs.

Age UK was formed on 1 April 2009 when Age Concern and Help the Aged merged. In the last financial year, Age UK raised an impressive £167.7m, supposedly for charity.

However, it cost Age UK about a whopping £85m to raise and manage this money, leaving just £80.4m for charitable use (after retaining a little money for future use). So, just 48% of the money raised for charity could actually be used for charity – rather pathetic really.

Of this £80.4m supposedly used for charity, around £25m was donated to other charities. As these charities would all have chief executives and financial directors and fundraising managers and staff and offices and computers and whatever, they would almost certainly have costs of say 30% (£7.5m) of all money donated. That just left £72.9m (43%) of Age UK’s cash that could possibly be used for charity. Then you’d have to subtract Age UK’s administrative and management costs – but I can’t find out how much these were.

However, I do know that two Age UK executives were paid (I deliberately did not write “earned”) between £170,000 and £180,000 a year. Nice work if you can get it.

I think one of these is one of Age UK’s well-paid bosses:

Six more Age UK managers were on £100,000 to £120,000. And a further twenty five staff were paid between £60,000 and £100,000. Age UK probably uses less than 40% of the money it receives for charitable purposes, but it’s certainly quite charitable to its own senior managers.

I have previously ranted about the fact that there are an almost unbelievable 180,000 registered charities in England and Wales. Yes, 180,000. The population of England and Wales is around 56,600,000 – that’s a truly incredible charity for every 314 people!!!

These charities employ – wait for it – 874,829 staff. So there is a charity employee for every 65 people. There are also 945,278 charity trustees. I’m sure the Charity Commission welcomes there being so many charities, as the more charities there are, the more need there is for them to employ loads of well-paid, well-pensioned managers and staff. But to me it looks like we need a massive clear-out in our bloated, overstaffed, underperforming charities sector.

As for the mobility scooters mis-selling scam, one of the newspaper’s readers commented: “I know a chap who briefly had a job selling scooters and other mobility aids for some firm or other (n.b. NOT the company featured in this article).

He had a pricing list which was for his eyes only. He was encouraged to sell the product for as much as he could possibly get for it, and he was paid 50% commission on whatever he charged over the list price.

He resigned very quickly, realising that he was basically expected to rip off pensioners and the frail.”

(Tomorrow – Britain’s “F.B.I.” farce)

4 comments to Age UK – a charity? Maybe. But for whom? The elderly or Age UK’s bosses?

  • Fat Cat Watch

    Perfect timing..

    Listen to this, BBC Radio show on what the charity commission is doing about the huge tax scams used by charities. Its actually a very good program.
    Eg people own a company AND a charity, then shuttle profits from the company to their own charity, reclaim the tax releif from the tax payer then use the Charity funds for other business ventures, all free of tax. Action by Charity commission = zero

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b036kbmc

  • You comment on only the one. We have a very small town (pop ±6000) with a couple of shoppy streets and SEVEN ‘charity’ shops, 3 of which are Age UK…
    They’re staffed by wonderful Volunteers – but when a ‘manager’ visits it’s rather like Darth Vader & the Evil Empire… far removed from the altruistic caring ethos we see at McDonalds or Dominos Pizza…

  • Dale Sleath

    I was shocked when my 85 year old Mother who has Parkinsons Disease and has had two falls recently was quoted £15.00 per hour to fit some handrails. This was in October 2015. Just this week I have been contacted by Age UK who were going to fit some more handrails this time at a whopping £21.00 per hour. I am outraged. When I questioned this amount with the caller and expressed my disbelief at this amount she said “I’m not having this conversation….we are a charity you know. Whilst I was angry and made that clear, I didn’t swear, I wasn’t abusive and I didn’t shout. She said to me “do you want it done or not? To which I replied “not at £21.00 per hour, no.” Then she hung up. Who is this Charity supposed to be helping. My Mother lives on a modest pension and attendance allowance and I live on Carers Allowance as her only carer. These people come into your home, they are very friendly and appear helpful and gain your trust. I’m able to speak up for my Mum but I’m worried about those elderly people who don’t have anybody. They are vulnerable and unable to get these things done so they will just pay even if they can’t really afford that much. Part of Age UK’s aims is to enable the elderly to live a better life financially. Really?

  • Dan Williams

    Car insurance quote from AgeUK was £1220. My current insurers renewed it for less than £500.

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