Charities in the UK have refuted suggestions executives bring the philanthropic world into "disrepute" by being paid six-figure salaries, arguing the money is necessary to attract the best people for the job.

It has been revealed 30 executives working at Britain's leading 14 foreign aid charities are each paid more than £100,000 a year, a rise from 19 three years ago.

A charity regulator has warned that these salaries could be damaging to charities, especially as in some cases the pay increases arrived at a time when donations and revenues fell.

The Daily Telegraph reported that 11 of the 30 executives at charities connected with the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) were reportedly on a higher wage than the Prime Minister's £142,500 per year for 2013.

Charity Commission chairman William Shawcross told the Daily Telegraph: "It is not for the commission to tell charities how much they should pay their executives. That is a matter for their trustees.

"However, in these difficult times, when many charities are experiencing shortfalls, trustees should consider whether very high salaries are really appropriate, and fair to both the donors and the taxpayers who fund charities.

"Disproportionate salaries risk bringing organisations and the wider charitable world into disrepute."

Now leaders of other charities have condemned the comments by Shawcross, adding that the amount executives get paid is not an issue for donors.

Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of charity leaders organisation Acevo, described Shawcross's warning as "deeply unhelpful".

He added: "This simply isn't an issue for donors. Donors are more concerned about the outcomes, the performance and the efficiency of these organisations.

"To keep talent, really strong people, at the top of these organisations they need to be paid properly. These are still not excessive salaries when you compare them to the public and private sectors.

"The big national and international charities are very demanding jobs and we need to attract the best talent to those jobs and that's what we do."

Help our work to stop children dying

Some of the top paying-executives according to the figures include Sir Nick Young, the chief executive of the British Red Cross, who was paid £184,000 despite a 1% fall in donations and a 3% fall in revenue for the charity, and Christian Aid executive Loretta Minghella, whose pay increased from £119,123 to £126,072 over three years.

A spokesperson at DEC said the pay of its executives is "broadly in line" with other charities.

The spokesperson added: "To ensure the most effective use of appeal funds, a balance must be struck between minimising overheads and ensuring a robust management system is in place.

"Good management of emergency responses in the UK allows our member agencies to deliver the planning, monitoring, accountability and transparency that this work requires and that the public rightly demands."

The charities involved with DEC include Action Aid, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, Care International, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Plan UK and Save the Children.

A spokesperson for Save the Children, whose executive Justin Forsyth earned £163,000 last year, said the charity pays out "appropriately competitive wages".

They added: "We want to save more children's lives. We can't - and shouldn't - compete with salaries in the private sector, but we need to pay enough to ensure we get the best people to help our work to stop children dying needless deaths."

A Christian Aid spokesman said Minghella "brings substantial experience and skills in managing a large and complex operation to Christian Aid, strengths which are reflected in her salary that is on a level comparable with that of others of like position in the sector".