I was just as concerned as the rest of you about Tonyís assertions regarding the substantial sums of money allegedly paid to Chief Execís of other charities. I have now had a response from SSAFA Central Office in London.
They have confirmed that the sums that Tony has quoted as being paid from SSAFA (to the Royal Opera House etc) are not correct. These transactions appear nowhere in the SSAFA accounts and this has been confirmed by our Director of Finance. They also wish to point out that 92 pence in every pound received by SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity is spent on delivering services to our beneficiaries.
I have done some research myself on the various people cited by Tony as recipients of SSAFA funds:
ē Robin Pellew left the National Trust for Scotland in 2006
ē Tony Hall (now Lord Hall) left the Royal Opera in 2012 and became the Director General of the BBC (still holds that position)
ē Jeremy Oppenheim is shown as receiving a salary of £123,000 in 2003 from Jewish Care (this came from a list of Chief Exec salary payments published in The Guardian in 2003)
Perhaps Tony can enlighten us how he came to connect these individuals with SSAFA? In the meantime, I would suggest that you might wish to refrain from writing to your MPís or newspapers quoting the above people as recipients of charitable funds from SSAFA; you might receive an unpleasant letter from a lawyer!
While I cannot speak for the Royal British Legion, I do not recognise Tonyís assertion that in SSAFA Ďa very close eye is kept on branchesí. I look after the Guildford area and I donít have the feeling that my Branch Secretary or Branch Chairman are always looking at what I do or even Central Office in London is keeping Branch under surveillance. SSAFA Branch and Divisions are relatively autonomous; we raise funds where needed to run our small cog in the organisation.
Tony has alluded to the process of seeking help through SSAFA. Itís true that we must complete a comprehensive form (Form A) which covers your eligibility for help (i.e. proof of military service) your income and expenditure, savings and your needs and circumstances. This is a standardised form and it is what all the military charities expect to receive before reaching a decision as to whether they can help.
All the military charities must by law have a defined charitable purpose and this will cover when and how awards can be made. The form A process needs to be comprehensive enough to enable the decision makers to reach an informed decision and be able to withstand scrutiny from the Charity Commission.
In my experience it is rare to receive an outright refusal from a regimental or corps association. In SSAFA Surrey last year (2016) we obtained over £139,000 in grants on behalf of our clients (nationally the figure was over £12.5M for 2016). I would like to think we are quite successful in obtaining help for our clients and the military charities are generous where there is a need.
Need is the operative word. If you have a reasonable surplus of income over expenditure at the end of each month and a few grand in savings you may not be successful in getting assistance from the military charities. But that is to be expected as after all it is charitable money and should only be used where there is a necessity and it cannot be addressed via statutory sources (state benefits etc).
I am concerned that some of the comments made on this site might put people off from seeking help from the military charities. Every case is different and just because someone may have asked for assistance and did not get it, it does not follow that the response to your request will be the same. If you need help give your local SSAFA team a call or PM me if you wish.
Finally, letís stop the sniping at our comrades; be they officers, warrant officerís, NCOís and soldiers. Making sweeping statements about motives for taking up salaried roles in the military charitable sector is not helpful and can be divisive. I have yet to meet anyone in this sector who is in it for the money only; I have found that they do the job with a view to helping their less fortunate comrades.
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