Mark Lever Interview Part Two – Following up on the NVCO recommendations on Executive Pay in the Charity Sector

National Autistic Society Chief Executive, Mark Lever

National Autistic Society Chief Executive, Mark Lever

Welcome to Part Two of the Interview with Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society.

This interview was an in-depth and wide-ranging one and the various topics covered will be featured across six parts between 27th April – 2nd May 2015. Please click here to read the Introduction to this interview if you haven’t already.

This part of the interview examines the efforts of the NAS to implement the recommendations from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NVCO) 2014 enquiry into executive pay in the charity sector (Click here to read NCVO full report in new window).

Below are the three most relevant recommendations from the NVCO Report:

1) As a matter of policy charities with incomes over £500,000 should publish the names, job titles and remuneration of their highest-paid staff

2) The salary details published should be accompanied by a summary of the arguments used from the board of trustees to justify the amounts involved

3) Charities with incomes over £500,000 should consider adopting ‘Remuneration Ratios’ with a formula based on a multiple of the median pay in an organisation

What do the public say?

An article in The Daily Telegraph entitled ‘30 charity chiefs paid more than £100,000’ asked the following question:

“Is it acceptable for charity chief executives to earn £100,000?”

Those who click here and complete the poll at the top of the article and click to ‘view results’ will see that at the time of writing out of 15,000 votes – 79.7% (12,000) voted: “No. Donors want their cash to go to the poor, not executives. Comparisons with what people might earn in the private sector are wholly false” whereas only 20% voted “Yes.These people manage huge budgets and make life-or-death decisions. You have to pay for talent.”

Key Financial Facts about the National Autistic Society

  • The Chief Executive receives a £137k salary & allowance package
  • The salary ratio between the highest paid (Chief Executive) and lowest paid (Support Worker) at the charity is 10:1
  • Nearly £2m is paid in salaries to just 24 senior level NAS staff earning over £60k annually
  • Support Worker vacancies are advertised from £7.02p per hour
  • 90% of the £90m annual NAS income is generated via local government service contracts

Key Quotes from Mark Lever on Pay in the Charity Sector:

“Don’t portray me as someone saying that you couldn’t possibly get anybody to do the job for less than I earn, because I know you could”

“It would mean that I would have to resign and you could get somebody else to come and do the job”

“The jobs that people do on the frontline are just absolutely horrendous jobs and local authorities should be paying more for those contracts”

The Interview with Mark Lever Part Two – Funding & The NAS

When the conversation turned to the frontline services that the NAS offers to autistic adults (an area which has suffered cutbacks), Mark started discussing the funding of the NAS.

Note: The below part of the interview has been published verbatim with minimal editing.

Mark: “I think when people look at the NAS and look at the NAS accounts this is where they perhaps get – they don’t get the whole picture because they think ‘you’ve got a turnover of £90m, you’ve got all this money’ and I wish we did have all this money! But 90% of that comes from our contract services.

So we’ve got seven schools, and all the children in those schools come under a local authority package of support and so we just have contracts to provide that. And then within our so-called ‘adult services’ that might be some registered homes, supported living, outreach services, so 90% of it is from the income from those packages.

And some of those packages are relatively small, some of them are quite large – £1,000 a week, but the way the charity used to work was that they would have the funding for those services and make a surplus and then that surplus would be reinvested in the ‘free’ services if you like, so sometimes it feels like you’re sitting on top of three organisations – you’ve got the service bit, then you’ve got the policy and campaigning bit which is the Autism Act, strategy and all the stuff that we do there, and then you’ve got the other charitable services – the information, advice, advocacy, support type of things that we do. Those two bits are all charitably funded – we get no government funding for that and typically the cost of those services is roughly about £7m a year to deliver so we have to fundraise £7m every year just to keep those things going.

Previously the vast bulk of that [funding] came from the surpluses we made on these services here but as local authority funding’s been squeezed we’ve had to fundraise more and more to try and keep those things going really.

And that’s the challenge is that in the past we’ve delivered far more support because there was more money to be made in local authorities so we could re-invest there and one of our arguments against private sector is that, that money goes off to shareholders whereas with us it goes into trying to provide more charitable stuff.

So, our policy and campaigning work that we do is all charitably funded and as funding gets tighter we have to stop, we have to cut back on the amount of work that we do in that area which is a shame because that goes back to what I was saying ‘what should we do as a national organisation’, those big changes that we can make, that should be what we’re doing, focusing on trying to bring about those changes where we can.”

The Debate around Executive Pay Levels and the NVCO Report

When discussing the number of autistic people employed by the NAS Mark states that he would like to see more autistic people working for the organisation and mentions that the majority of the work force within the NAS are found within Support or Care roles, explaining that 1,800 Support Workers make up about 50% of the total NAS workforce of 3,600. I then ask Mark what the role of a Support Worker involves:

Mark: “That’s providing support either to autistic children or autistic adults in our services, so the adults that we support are typically a lot of non-verbal adults, a lot of people with extreme sensory needs, so a lot of the support might be 1-2-1 support or more than that actually. But it’s typically providing direct day-to-day support to autistic people and services to schools.”

Lydia: “So, particularly in a residential area that would be quite intensive support then wouldn’t it?”

Mark: “Yeah, and we do – I don’t know the numbers but we do have some people on the [autism] spectrum who do that work as well. It’s obviously – I mean I would love to recruit more people, I would love to recruit more people with autism into those roles but it’s about getting people applying for the jobs really and it might not be the sort of work that would appeal to somebody on the spectrum.”

The discussion then moves onto executive pay in the charity sector following the NVCO report.

Lydia: “As a result of their enquiry into executive pay, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations recommended that charities should publish the names, job titles and salaries of their highest paid staff as a matter of policy, why is it that the NAS has not adopted this recommendation since it was made a year ago?”

Mark: “In this year’s accounts we are doing. That’s our recommendation to our Board of Trustees so, the Board of Trustees make the decision, but we are doing that this year and the…in the accounts you can see the bandings of what people are paid in there, it can be a bit misleading – my pay is £127,500 and I know on social media a lot of people say it’s £140,000 but it’s actually only £127,500 my pay so…”

Lydia: “Another proposal [from NCVO] encourages charities to show restraint in senior level salaries by creating a formula based on a multiple of median pay in an organisation. For example Christian Aid took steps to replace a 6:1 pay ratio between the highest and lowest paid in the charity with a ratio of 4:1 between the highest and the median paid in the charity, so what steps are the NAS taking towards implementing that proposal?”

Mark: “We’ve not taken any steps towards that. Not because we don’t necessarily think there’s any value in it – I mean at the moment we’ve had a pay freeze including me for the last six years so there have been people who’ve changed jobs and moved jobs and got more by virtue of moving jobs but actually as an organisation there’s been a pay freeze for the last six years, so there’s been no increases in pay over the last six years”.

Lydia: “So there must be someone in your organisation then – please correct me if I’m wrong – who earns more than £130k because in your accounts it says there’s one person earning between £130k-£140k.”

Mark: “What that takes into account, so – I’m the highest paid person – but what that takes into account is where you get a travel allowance or a car allowance in there as well, so the value of that is added on to that, so basic pay – I’m mean I’m quite happy to tell you this – that the basic pay for me is £127,500 but my travel [allowance] is £6,000 which is the value of a company car, so when that’s added onto that, that takes it into that £130-140k bracket”.

Lydia: “I see. So on top of your £127,000 you get an extra £6,000 for your travel? Are there other employees who get extra for their travel?”

Mark: “Erm, the honest answer I don’t know but…”

Lydia: “I can’t imagine that’s normal practice for a…”

Mark interjects: “That is quite normal. Well, for people who get cars it’s the value of a company car, so when people get a company car, so lots of organisations – people have company cars…”

Lydia Interjects: “I think ‘organisations’ do, I wouldn’t say that charities do”

Mark: “They do, they do”

Lydia: “Do you think that that’s right? That you should be paid that and get a company car allowance on top?”

Mark: “Well, it’s the package that’s offered”

Lydia: “Do you think that’s right though?”

Mark: “I think that, er – do I think it’s right? I mean I’m receiving it, I mean whether its…when I arrived the Trustees offered me the package for that job and I accepted it. Do I think it’s right? I think that in a lot of cases people are travelling around the country a lot particularly national charities travel around the country a lot, it’s probably cheaper than other forms of transport. I do a lot of train travel and that’s why I said I won’t have a company car, that’s why I get an allowance towards that travel, but a lot of national charities do, whether it’s right or not I don’t know but I can’t – I would be a bit hypocritical if I said it wasn’t right when I’m accepting it”.

Editorial Note: During the fact-checking process following this interview the NAS clarified that Mark’s travel allowance is £6,500 and pays for his rail season ticket from his home to the NAS Head Office – this is why the allowance is detailed in his salary package in the accounts.

In addition Mark receives an extra £3,000 on top of the season ticket allowance in the form of a company car allowance taking his total travel/car allowance to £9,500 – not £6,000 as stated above. This brings Mark’s total Salary Package to £137k. In addition to the £9,500 travel/car allowance, Mark also claims additional expenses for in-work travel (Full details are provided at the end of the interview).

Lydia: “I had a look at your website yesterday and saw that there was an advert for a job for a bank Support Worker in Manchester for £7.02 per hour and there were full time Support Worker salaries for around £13,500, so your total package – that would make the ratio between the highest and the lowest paid at the NAS 10:1 – so you as the Chief Executive are paid ten times more than that Support Worker. Are you comfortable with that ratio?”

Mark: “I’m not comfortable with it at all. I think that we’re doing all we can to try and negotiate with local authorities to increase their fees so we can pay our workers more. I mean…with our services, the big driver of cost, the amount we can pay is the amount we can get from local authorities from the fees that they pay us.

And we’re not…one of the things we’re thinking of doing is withdrawing from certain contracts because they won’t pay enough money. I don’t think it’s right at all, I mean the jobs that people do on the frontline are just absolutely horrendous jobs and local authorities should be paying more for those contracts.”

The Teaching Strikes & an Alternative View of the Senior Level Salaries

After discussing the Support Worker salary levels the subject changed to the 2014 teaching strikes which resulted in Teachers from NAS schools striking for three days.

Lydia: Last year the Teaching Unions organised strikes on behalf of the Teachers at some of your day and residential schools, they say because the NAS wouldn’t offer a 1% pay rise following a two year pay freeze – and you’ve just explained that you’ve just had a six year pay freeze – and that you were looking to make changes to the Terms & Conditions of the Teachers.

And the Unions report that you sent ‘Dismissal Notices’ to Teachers who refused to sign the new Terms & Conditions and one [Union] said that they remain ‘Extremely disappointed by the disingenuous and intimidating tactics used thus far by senior employees of the NAS in driving through the proposals’ [NASUWT PDF Press Bulletin available here]. And they also directly reference your level of pay – the senior level of pay – so what’s your view of this situation?”.

Mark: “…It wasn’t quite like that, what we wanted to do was we had a number of pay scales around the organisation and we wanted to standardise the pay scales. And that involved a review of all the Terms & Conditions, and in truth, the Terms & Conditions of the Teachers were probably far less impacted than the Terms & Conditions of the Support Workers on our adult services.

But the…what we’d agreed with the engagement of the Unions and I mean we engaged with our own staff, but when we came to changing the Terms & Conditions at the particular date that we said we would, the process is that you issue a notice that your Terms & Conditions are going to change but actually if people then say ‘we’re not going to accept those Terms & Conditions’, effectively, they’re saying they don’t want to work for us anymore.

So, the way that’s portrayed, that’s portrayed in a way that I think is slightly disingenuous, I mean we were just following a process. It was a very painful process for the people affected by that.”

Lydia: “Because they were quite long strikes weren’t they? They weren’t just one day they carried on for a while”.

Mark: “Yeah, I mean the Unions are obviously keen to highlight this but my concern was for the people that we support in those services and as I say the local…we work in an environment where the local authority funding is getting cut all the time. We’ve got a particular local authority saying we want to see a 40% cut in fees, 25% cut in fees, so we’ve got to be able to operate in that environment.”

Lydia: “And the most recent NAS accounts show that nearly £2m went to 24 senior level staff, which works out about £80k per senior member of staff. So do you understand that this pay disparity is what gives rise to the claim that this is why the NAS run projects like Ask Autism not as a charity service but as a business product, to help fund the salaries of the executives at the top instead of supporting those who depend on the charity at the bottom, whether it’s low-paid Support Workers, Teachers on pay freezes or autistic people and their families?”

Mark: “Yeah, yeah I can understand why people say that and I think that, I think we’re a large organisation, we’re quite a complex organisation, we are going to rely increasingly on fundraising, we obviously do a lot of policy and campaigning work and we have back office systems like finance departments, marketing departments and the rest of it and it means that we want to recruit good people into those roles and the marketplace that we’re operating in for those people – the same as every other national charity pushes the pay of those people.

And, if we’re going to recruit good people to do those jobs…I mean I want to run a charity that operates really well and does well for people and so it means that in that market place they’re the salaries we have to pay to get those people – If we could pay less we would.

It’s a real…how can I describe it, I just do not, I don’t like the idea that people are getting paid really low wages because the marketplace for social care is appalling. The work that people are expected to do, the funding cuts that are being made in that area, is appalling and it’s not right that people should be earning that limited amount.

There is another market place where I’m saying we need to get the people to do the best for this charity and that market place puts the price of these people at that and we have to recruit those people. So…most people have stuck with us through six years of a pay freeze in the same way that the – and it’s not – I don’t set my own pay but when I was recruited the Trustees were operating in a market and they gave me what they gave me.

Now my job is to try and make sure that we do better, we fundraise more, that we negotiate harder with local authorities so that we can pay people more, and we do the best we can for people with autism.

But clearly, anyone looking at those numbers is going to question it and say that, but the one thing that I would say is that we’re not – with things like Ask Autism – we’re not trying to make massive profits from Ask Autism we’re really trying to generate sufficient income from that so that we can develop more modules, but your point about making that more accessible or free of charge to others who might want to use it is well made and I will act on that.”

Editorial Note: The discussion around Ask Autism links back to the original article which led to his invitation to the meeting. You can read that article here for the background information on this topic and read the follow-up article which forms Part One of this Interview Series here if you haven’t already. Part One of this series highlights that in the intervening six weeks since Mark made the above commitment to act on reducing the price of Ask Autism or provide it free of charge – no action has been taken.

The role of Trustees in setting the pay of the Chief Executive

Lydia: “So are you saying if there’s an issue with the senior levels of pay, people need to take it up with the Trustees?”

Mark: “The senior level pay is determined by the Trustees, so my pay is determined by the Trustees…my pay has changed once one year after I was here but it’s been frozen since then. But yeah that – the Trustees set the pay but I think, it’s a large complex charity employing three and a half thousand people and we have to get the best people we can to do the jobs and we are working in a market place and if you look at all the other national charities out there, certainly I would say that for those jobs, those Heads of Service jobs, our people are probably getting paid less than some other charities of a similar size”.

A Theoretical View of the Executive Pay Structure

The conversation then moved onto an ‘entirely theoretical’ view for how the executive pay structure could be streamlined to reduce the 10:1 salary ratio, adhere to NVCO recommendations and increase the pay of the NAS Support Workers.

The view outlined below has been formed from my experience working in recruitment as Director of my own recruitment agency which had two employees and a city centre office at peak before the recession. The agency specialised in permanent recruitment and had a range of clients from charities to blue chip software companies and legal firms.

After the recession saw recruitment freezes from key clients I concentrated on building up my other business – a career management agency providing CV & Interview Coaching services to those seeking work – which I am still involved with now.

Between the career management agency and the recruitment work I have worked with over 2,000 employees in the last 10 years’ from the voluntary, public and private sectors and during that process I have acquired detailed knowledge of the labour market.

One of my autistic traits is that I have a very good head for facts and figures, organising and recalling information. Pay rates in the labour market have been a professional interest for years – mainly because I know clients will always ask me about them – and this is why I state my view below that the NAS seems to ‘overpay’ those at the top.

During the interview it was easier for me to illustrate a 50% pay cut example when discussing the senior roles outlined below, however in reality I imagine a starting point to help reduce the executive pay ratio would be more like 40% – which would see the average level of NAS senior level pay cut from the current average of approx. £80k to £50k.

Note: The below part of the interview has been published verbatim with minimal editing.

Lydia: “So I’ve come up with a different interpretation of the figures. Did you know that if your team of 24 senior level employees reduced their salary levels from £80k to £40k on average that would generate nearly £1m in savings a year. It looks like around £15k a year would have been enough to provide a 1% pay rise to those 45 teaching staff – if I’m wrong please correct me”.

Mark: “A 1% payrise for…”

Lydia: “So the total for the 45 [teaching] staff would have been about £15k [for the pay rise to avoid the strikes]”

Mark: “Which they got by the way, they got a 1% pay rise. Yeah, it is a little bit less than that, but that’s not far off.”

Lydia: “And, the £1m [saving from a pay cut] would be enough to give a pay rise of around £300 a year to each of your 3,600 employees…”

Mark interjects: “It costs…I can tell you exactly. To give a 1% pay rise across the board is about £800k, it would cost us.”

Lydia: “Yeah, so that would be within the £1m”.

Mark: “Yeah, yeah”.

Lydia: “And if you…it’s interesting what you were saying before actually about that £100k cost of the employment service – the setting up your own business enterprise service [Editorial Note – This part of the discussion is covered in Part One of this interview], because if you actually, if your pay was cut from £140k to £40k that would leave £100k spare annually and that’s enough to actually, in this particular case pay for that entire enterprise service that you’ve been looking into.

So when you look at it like that…that’s just from your salary – this is a charity, why isn’t that already happening?”

Mark: “I guess the question I would ask is whether or not we would be able to recruit the people in those roles that we need to do those jobs and take on those jobs at that price, because if you…”

Lydia interjects: “Well that was just your figure, so I’ve just taken your…[£100k figure from the cost of the enterprise service]”

Mark interjects: “You can do the sums and that’s absolutely right, and you can work out the average and say well actually could we – if we’re paying somebody currently – I think the average…the average probably isn’t way off but it’s probably not quite as high as £80k, but no if um…say we got someone on £60k and you’re suggesting that we reduce that to £40k, if you could show me where we could recruit somebody capable of doing the job at that person on £60k for £40k I’d employ them.”

Lydia: “I’d love to”.

Mark: “Yeah”.

Lydia: “I used to work in recruitment so…I would love to”

[We talk over eachother]

Lydia: “If you wanted to…definitely. I think that your…I mean obviously I don’t know exactly what the kind of roles are but that’s the sort of thing I’d love to do.”

Mark: “But I mean I..I, you know I…”

Lydia: “If you’re saying to me ‘could I find someone Lydia, that would work for less than £135k a year as Chief Executive’ I’d say yes”.

Mark: “I’m not…”

Lydia interjects: “With a good set of experience as well, I would say ‘yes you could’”.

Mark “I’m not…don’t, don’t portray me as someone saying that you couldn’t possibly get anybody to do the job for less than I earn, because I know you could.

Point one is that the Trustees set the pay and that is what was on offer and I applied for the job on that basis with that…that’s what I did. What I am saying though is if there is a way of recruiting people into those roles who can deliver in those roles for significantly less than we’re paying now I would love to work with you to do that.”

Lydia: “And…would that include you as well – reducing your salary?”

Mark: “Well, I mean, it would mean that I would have to resign and you could get somebody else to come and do the job.”

Lydia: “Why would you have to resign?”

Mark: “Well, because I mean, I’m paid this, I mean I’ve got…it’s just one of those things where I…I mean if you wanted to make a case for somebody else coming into do the job for less than me then you can…you can talk…I think you’ve got to talk to the Trustees because I’m…happy talking about the pay rates that I’m responsible for setting, but the Trustees set mine, set my pay.”

Lydia: “Ok, so your saying that you wouldn’t do your job for any less, so if the Trustees came back to you and said ‘we’re going to give you a pay cut’, you would resign?”.

Mark: “No I didn’t say that at all, I didn’t say that”.

Lydia: “Ok, you just said that you would resign”.

Mark: “No, no, no, no, what – Lydia please don’t’…”

Lydia: “No, no, It’s ok that’s why I’m asking – I just want to be clear”

Mark: “I’m saying to you, I’m happy for you to, for you to challenge me on – and I’m happy to work with you on actually, genuinely – to work with you on the pay because it would be, it would be an interesting thing to do, to look at…say we had a job coming up and it’s all market tested and everybody identifies the rate for that role and for you to work with us and say ‘actually I can find you someone who can do this job for half the salary’. I mean, I would…”

Lydia: “I would love to look at the top end senior level salaries and look at that sort of thing, so I’d be definitely very happy to help you out with that because I used to do some headhunting and that’s fine. I just think that what you’ll find with this is there’s two types of people really. There’s people who are attracted to the £140k salary or however much and there’s people who are very skilled and will work for less.”

Mark: “Yeah, yeah”.

Lydia: “There always are, and they are harder to find – I’m not pretending that they’re not – but it’s if you know how to find them and because of my background then I would feel quite confident that I would have a good shot at finding them for less.”

Mark “Yeah, yeah and I’m saying to you I’m happy to work with you on that, to see if we can do that”.

Lydia: “Great…good, Ok – I love an interesting challenge so that’s good”.


What Happened Next?

During the Interview: Mark made the following statementI’m quite happy to tell you this – that the basic pay for me is £127,500 but my travel [allowance] is £6,000 which is the value of a company car, so when that’s added onto that, that takes it into that £130-140k bracket”

After the Interview: Despite stating that he receives £127,500 + £6,000 travel allowance which is the value of a company car, the NAS have subsequently confirmed that Mark receives the following package and has done so for the last 6 years:

Salary £127,500

+ Travel Allowance £6,500

+ Car Allowance £3,000

This takes Marks total salary package to £137k.

When this information was received the following questions were submitted to the NAS for clarification:

– Why does Mark have a travel allowance and a car allowance when he said he doesn’t use a car for work purposes?

– Is the travel allowance meant to pay for his extended train fare to and from the NAS head office?

– Does the travel allowance mean that Mark does not claim any additional travel expenses throughout the year?

The NAS responded as follows:

“Mark does use his car for travel for work, although not for travelling into head office. The allowance for travel relates to the cost of a season ticket to travel into head office. Both allowances are taxed. He claims for expenses outside the season ticket journey.”

To clarify, this means that Mark’s actual salary package is as follows:

Salary £127,500

+ Travel Allowance £6,500 (Provided as an extra perk to cover Mark’s Rail Season Ticket for the journey from his Home to the NAS Head Office)

+ Car Allowance £3,000 (In Lieu of a Company Car)

In addition Mark makes extra claims for in-work travel and other expenses.

During the Interview: Mark made a statement about the NAS staff in ‘Heads of Service’ jobs “probably getting paid less” than other national charities without providing any factual basis with which to research the comparable rates of pay.

After the Interview: When asked for details on these pay rates as part of the fact-checking process following this interview in order to make a comparison to the other salaries in the marketplace – the NAS declined to send them.

During the Interview: Mark talks of there being two ‘market places’ – one for the frontline workers and one for back office/head office staff.

After the Interview: It was established that Media Relations/PR roles at the NAS are being advertised with a salary level of £26k-27k – twice as much as the £13k Support Worker vacancies are advertised from as shown is this job advert here.

During the Interview: Mark stated “I’m happy to work with you on actually, genuinely – to work with you on the pay because it would be, it would be an interesting thing to do”

After the Interview: The following enquiry was submitted “Mark challenged me to help show him how to recruit senior level staff for less money. Please can you provide a copy of the job descriptions and salary/allowance/benefits package of all senior staff on £60k+ so I can start to research comparable market rates”. The NAS responded:

“Our HR director has advised Mark that we would like to take a different approach and would welcome your help in identifying suitable candidates for future vacancies at this level, rather than providing information about jobs where we have already recruited suitable candidates.

All of our current vacancies are available for public view on our recruitment page here: (Note: The link the NAS submitted doesn’t work).

The grade for each job is based on an evaluation against our own criteria and market rates for jobs of a similar description, but we would welcome your input on any future live recruitment at that level.”

Editorial Note: Although the above link to the recruitment page the NAS sent through doesn’t work, it is assumed they meant it to direct to their jobs page here. Anyone involved in recruitment knows that the purpose of conducting a benchmarking process for salary levels is that it happens before the role is advertised and the salary level set. Once a live vacancy is advertised with a set salary attached the employer will not get any candidates who will work for less than the salary advertised.

During the Interview: When discussing the role of the Trustees in setting the salary of the Chief Executive Mark commented “Point one is that the Trustees set the pay and that is what was on offer and I applied for the job on that basis”.

After the Interview: Following this interview the following request was submitted to the NAS “Mark mentioned that the Trustees are responsible for setting his pay – can you forward the contact details of a relevant Trustee to approach so that I can discuss the NVCO proposals and the process around setting the pay of the Chief Executive?”

Five weeks later the NAS responded and declined to send through any Trustee contact details instead stating:

“Mark’s pay is set, and performance reviewed by, the Nominations Committee, a sub group of the Governance committee, chaired by the NAS Chair”.

As a result, even though the NVCO report into executive pay recommended that the salary details of senior employees should be accompanied by a summary of the arguments used from the board of trustees to justify the amounts involved, it has not been possible to ask a trustee the follow-up questions on the process around the setting of executive pay levels raised during the discussion.

Editorial Note: It is not clear what aspects of frontline roles within the NAS Mark is referring to when he says “the jobs that people do on the frontline are just absolutely horrendous jobs”, however the role of a Support Worker involves working quite closely with the autistic child/adult over a period of time including accompanying them on social visits such as cinema and shopping trips, as well as helping them adapt to day-to-day tasks.

According to Mark’s own figures the NAS receives up to £1,000 a week to provide care for each autistic person and Support Workers are a key element of that care. The care of autistic children and adults via these contracts is what generates 90% of the NAS revenue.

Here are some NAS videos which include current and former Support Workers discussing their role for those interested to find out a bit more about what the role of a Support Worker involves:




Additional Links:

Please see below the links to the various news items and reports referred to in this article:


Part three asks tough questions about the NAS Autism Accreditation service & the Anthony Kletzander case.

Click here for links to all six parts of the Interview with Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society.

About the Author

Lydia Andal is an autistic campaign journalist and author who draws attention to the issues affecting under-represented parts of society.

Lydia’s new bookAm I Autistic? A Guide to Autism & Asperger’s Self-Diagnosis for Adults (Digital Edition)’ is available to order now at all major digital bookstores with the print edition scheduled for Autumn 2015.

You can read what other people say about the book and watch the 60 second explainer video here.

Lydia grew up in Essex before graduating with a 2:1 Degree in Business & Entrepreneurship and relocating to Manchester where she worked in the corporate sector before setting up her first business age 23.

As well as founding and editing The New Idealist magazine (now on hiatus), Lydia also created Short Story Sunday – a site for those who enjoy original short stories.

Lydia is an Ambassador for Potential Plus UK gifted children’s society which works to highlight that giftedness only represents potential – without special support many gifted children never reach their full potential in society.


You can read the opening section of ‘Am I Autistic? A Guide to Autism & Asperger’s Self-Diagnosis for Adults’ at the Amazon Kindle Store (UK).


Sign up here to register for an update on when the print edition is launched as well as occasional updates on future editions and notification when relevant autism-related news items or features are added to the site.



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