Published by The Mail on Sunday (1st November, 2020)
David Miliband was handed an annual pay package of more than $1 million (£772,000) last year by an aid charity that is heavily funded by British taxpayers.
The former Foreign Secretary’s mega salary from the International Rescue Committee – which receives about £50 million a year from the Government to alleviate global poverty and distress – is revealed in data it gave to the United States tax authorities.
It discloses that Mr Miliband, who fulminated against ‘immoral’ fat cats and the scandal of high pay when he stood to succeed Gordon Brown as Labour leader in 2010, pocketed $1,019,636 from the charity as its president.
‘This is utterly outrageous,’ said Pauline Latham, a Tory MP and member of the House of Commons International Development Committee. ‘Our funds are supposed to be spent on the poorest and most needy in the world – not multi-millionaires like David Miliband.’
She urged the Government to challenge the IRC over donations going towards such a huge salary, adding: ‘There is no way they can claim this is down to market forces since I am not aware of any other charity paying this kind of money. It is just scandalous.’
Mr Miliband’s pay package, which soared by $107,840 over the previous year, has close to doubled in just five years while running the charity. He was also given a housing allowance of $50,000 last year.
In addition, the one-time MP for South Shields is listed as a speaker for bookings by an agency, with fees of between $50,000 and $100,000.
Among Mr Miliband’s highly paid colleagues at the IRC is UK executive director Laura Kyrke-Smith, a former chairwoman of Labour Campaign for International Development, who worked as a ministerial speechwriter in the Foreign Office during Mr Miliband’s tenure.
Mr Miliband’s charity earnings alone are five times the pay of Boris Johnson, four times the salary of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, 33 times the average £23,000 salary of his former constituents – and 12 times the amount taken home by his MP brother Ed.
‘It beggars belief that the chief executive of a refugee charity earns four times more than the head of the UN, whose salary has not changed for years,’ said one former senior UN official.
This latest fat cat scandal in the aid industry will fuel concerns that charities and private sector consultants are milking the bloated aid budget, which has almost doubled to £15.2 billion since the Tories came to power. The Mail on Sunday has exposed a series of scandals, including another charity chief who pocketed more than £2 million in just four years, and firms raking off millions in profits.
Mr Miliband, the son of a Marxist academic, boasts on the IRC website of being a ‘passionate advocate for the world’s uprooted and poor people’. Since taking the New York-based job in 2013, he has toured the world to plead for funds while hobnobbing with politicians and celebrities.
In September, he wrote in The Guardian that ‘there needs to be accountability for aid donors and implementing agencies’. He has also bemoaned the lack of public faith in leaders. ‘You know the phrase ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ – that is the danger today,’ he told the Davos summit in January. ‘This is the age of impunity. Anything goes.’
The IRC’s most recent accounts show that the charity – founded at the behest of Albert Einstein to help refugees fleeing the Nazis – received £47.3 million from the Department for International Development in 2018 and £59.7 million the previous year.
It also got £60 million in 2018 from EU aid agencies, which have been given billions by Britain over the past few years. Like other aid agencies that benefited from DFID’s largesse, the IRC criticised the Government’s decision to fold the free-spending department into the Foreign Office. ‘The decision puts the lives and livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people at risk,’ claimed Ms Kyrke-Smith.
Mr Miliband’s 12-strong executive team at the IRC shared $5,285,753 between them – which works out at an average of $440,479 each for the charity’s top brass. One senior British executive was given between €180,000 and €190,000 – a rise of at least €20,000 on the previous year to a level higher than the Prime Minister’s salary. Two other British officials had six-figure pay packages.
The Charity Commission has begun taking a tougher stand on high pay, for example rebuking Marie Stopes International after its boss was given a big rise to £434,500. ‘We understand why the public care about how charities pay their staff and why this undermines the reputation of charities,’ said commission head Helen Stephenson.
Save The Children International, based in London, has also attracted controversy, with 76 staff listed on six-figure salaries. In addition, it gives its US chief executive a $618,111 (£477,500) package.
An IRC spokesman said Mr Miliband’s salary was in the middle of the range for New York non-profit chief executives and that along with other senior staff, he took a 20 per cent pay cut this year to support the global response to the pandemic.
The spokesman added that since 2013, ‘the IRC has grown from a $450 million organisation to over $800 million, reaching more people than ever before’. ‘In the last year alone, the IRC has supported more than 20 million people in 40 countries worldwide.’