The High Pay Commission is an independent body set up to investigate high pay in the UK. A year long investigation culminated in the publication of a report on Monday. Those who’ve been keeping an eye on the recession will be wholly unsurprised to learn that the poorer members of society are bearing the costs of austerity cuts, whilst the top 0.1% of earners are getting richer. The Commission states that:
In 1980 top bosses were well rewarded, but they had not pulled so far away from the rest of society. Since then some of them have enjoyed an increase of over 4000% to what are now multi-million pound packages… so much wealth has been channelled to those at the very top. This is a trend that has led to such a huge rise in inequality over the period that Britain now has a gap between rich and poor that rivals that in some developing nations.
Amongst the figures quoted by the Commission, is the salary of the chief executive at Lloyds Bank (now partly owned by the State), which the Commission states has increased by more than 3,000% since 1980 to more than £2.5m – 75 times the average Lloyds employee’s salary. In 1980, it was just (‘just’ – hah!) 13.6 times the average. Lloyds have responded with the claim that “The High Pay Commission’s figures are flawed. They have compared the average basic salary of our employees to a remuneration package awarded to the CEO that includes salary, bonus and benefits. As a result they have reached an inflated number that is entirely unrepresentative of the truth” – because everyone knows that bonuses and benefits aren’t really part of one’s salary, just little treats left by the banking fairy.
A copy of the High Pay Commission’s report, including recommendations such as not-doing-salary-deals-in-secret, can be downloaded from here.