Public 'want top pay reined in'

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Few people believe that top bosses should be paid more than £1m a year, according to a survey.

The ICM poll of 2,000 adults also found two-thirds wanted wider representation from staff on remuneration committees.

It was commissioned by the High Pay Centre, an independent pressure group which monitors executive pay.

The findings come as Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Stephen Hester faces continuing pressure to turn down a bonus of £1m in shares.

Sir Philip Hampton, who is chairman of the mainly publicly-owned bank, has given up a £1.4m shares reward he was due in February.

The poll found just 7% of respondents supported pay above £1m a year and 70% were in favour of "binding powers" for shareholders to block pay packages for top executives.

Deborah Hargreaves of the High Pay Centre called for changes to restore trust in business.

Start Quote

Some executives do deserve to be paid very well”

End Quote Margaret Doyle Financial columnist

"Top executive pay and the behaviour of business are issues at the heart of the current public debate about how we rebuild our economy," she said.

"Our polling shows the public do not believe executives, even of the biggest companies, should be awarded multi-million-pound pay packages.

"It is time for boardrooms to wake up to what is fair and act now to rebuild public trust."

She called for "bold action" to end the disparity between what top executives and average workers earned.

The poll, from a random sample of 2,003 adults, also revealed that only 1% of respondents said senior bosses were worth the £4m currently earned at the very top.

Ms Hargreaves added: "The public are squarely behind the case for reform. People want to see rewards based on fairness.

Business Secretary Vince Cable Vince Cable set out the government's plans on executive pay in the Commons last Monday

"Runaway executive pay has undermined the public's trust in business and we believe Parliament and the business community should take stronger action to curb it."

But Margaret Doyle, a financial columnist for Reuters Breakingviews, said some executives do deserve to be well paid.

"The job they do is a demanding one that requires a very specific and rare skill-set, and when you get to these very senior levels, the pool of people who can do these jobs is quite small.

"But I do have some sympathy for what the High Pay Centre is saying because there has been a huge escalation in the last 20 or 30 years in the pay at the top of companies and the link between that increase and underlying performance is far from clear."

Last week Business Secretary Vincent Cable outlined plans to curb excessive boardroom pay, promising more transparency and power for shareholders to veto big bonuses.

He said the government could not continue to see chief executives' pay rising while the performance of companies languished well behind.

The High Pay Centre said it welcomed the proposals for more shareholder powers, but argued they did not go far enough.

The High Pay Centre was recently established by Ms Hargreaves, who chaired the High Pay Commission during its year-long inquiry into executive pay.

The centre's stated aim is to "monitor pay at the top of the income distribution and research into other key areas of business reform."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 466.

    "Yes the bank bosses are earning a fortune, but they are people who work extremely hard and are at the top of their game".
    *** Are you serious?!!!
    "Plus if they can't get a competitive package in the UK, they'll just go abroad".
    *** Good Riddance, let them bankrupt someone else's country!

  • rate this

    Comment number 465.

    All this piffle about "highly qualified experts" running the banks - they're the ones who created the current shambles - you might as well employ the proverbial "hundred monkeys with typewriters" to run RBS and the rest - they'd do just as well (and might knock out a few decent sonnets as a sideline).

  • rate this

    Comment number 464.

    Labour will oppose the government's plans for an overall cap on household benefits
    they want caps set locally,so listen you guys north of the Watford gap the labour party does not think your worth as much as those in the south they are willing to fund them even in the overpriced area called London, and pay 1k a wk for a flat but up north they only give you £59,0 a wk
    there is equality brother

  • rate this

    Comment number 463.

    A recent report by Robert Peston. Chinese company will be buying Thames Water/ London's sewage system.

    As our population, globally increases, hedge funds, from all nations - not just the so-called west - are buying up land for food production, water and energy sources.

    The ConDems should be building our own UK power stations now. RBS or benefits baaad - no independent heat/light - very baaad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 462.

    All these politicans calling crying wolf over bonuses - who are you kidding?

    After your political careers are over I expect many of you to be cashing in heft sums as CON-sultants and advisors like Tony Blair et al.

  • rate this

    Comment number 461.

    "443.George nothappy Orwell
    Take ALL money out of ALL private banks and put it into a mutual or credit union."

    would we still have access to BACS & ATMs?

  • rate this

    Comment number 460.

    I earn £9 per hour.
    I`ve had no pay rise for 5 years,
    I`ve had no bonus for 5 years,
    I`ve now been on a 3 day week for the last 3 months,
    I`m an apprentice trained engineer in private industry.
    and i want reform at the top, these crooks have done nothing except asset strip the workers of this country.

    In 1789 the french got the guilotine out, lets hope it doesent have to happen again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 459.

    6 Hours ago

    "What do bankers actually do?"

    Exactly now the bank apologists will explain to us what they produce!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 458.

    There is plain straightforward high street banking and then there is high roller gambling WITH DEPOSITERS' MONEY. The former can be run by any competent accountant and when it comes to gambling few people would disagree that the bookies can run rings round our mega rich bankers. You seldom see a poor bookie and they love to fleece the high rollers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 457.

    448.TD_Pete "if you pay peanuts and you'll get monkey's"

    So by that you mean that most of the UK's striving workforce are monkeys, and these overpaid piggies are some kind of supermen?

    Careful you don't insult the majority whilst kissing the bottom of the minority.

    Cos those rich folks don't like to give out handouts!!!

    So - why do you defend them so much?

    How can you defend the indefensible?

  • rate this

    Comment number 456.

    Banking has and always will be a closed shop your talents and intelligence mean nothing unless you have been to the right school and university ,as have the present government ,who were at the same school and unis thats why there will be no change because the present government sees its self in director posts reaping the same bonuses as being awarded now after the next election .

  • rate this

    Comment number 455.

    The envy & class war nonsense spouted on HYS makes me worry about the future of the UK far more than bankers exploits.

    Wanting to have money motivated me to study and my earnings reflect that sacrifice. Being in Labour heartland many of my class mates educated themselves in the benefits culture and probably whinge about old boys network and unfairness. Never a problem for me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 454.

    I have no problem with "top bosses" earning more than £1m - if under their leadership the company is making a good profit. Their salary, however, should be linked to those profits with a contractual minimum and maximum pay. If the company is doing well they can have their high pay. If profits are low, no more than £50,000. And no bonuses simply for doing the job they're employed to do!

  • rate this

    Comment number 453.

    Fortunately, it's none of the public's business how much bosses get paid."

    In case you'd missed it, the public IS the majority shareholder in RBS so it is very much their business.

  • rate this

    Comment number 452.

    If you find out what a Preference Share is - you will note that there are no voting rights and therefore the government cannot say no as they have no right to. In 2009 when Mr Goodwin left RBS the shares were at around 12p: they are now around 28p thats nearly a 250% increase in share value and getting back to the value the Government bought the shares for! I don't call that failure!

  • rate this

    Comment number 451.

    BB - can't see much difference between Messrs Cameron, Blair, Osbourne and Mandleson myself - leaving aside the fact Cameron is a feeble clone of Blair and Osborne was way out of his depth in "yachtgate".

  • rate this

    Comment number 450.

    As a shareholder i would like my shares now before the government allows RBS to give them all away!

  • rate this

    Comment number 449.

    Fortunately, it's none of the public's business how much bosses get paid. It's up to the company owners or shareholders. It's up to them to get value for money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 448.

    As the saying goes, if you pay peanuts and you'll get monkey's. So be careful what you wish for as this chap has actually helped lessen RBS's exposure to the future turmoil of a Eurozone meltdown....

  • rate this

    Comment number 447.

    Bank bosses "work extremely hard" - what parallel universe are you living in ?


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