Salaries rise

CEO pay soars 16% as workers pay squeezed

Sir Pascal Soriot and Bernard Looney
High rollers: Sir Pascal Soriot and Bernard Looney

Chief executives at Britain’s biggest public companies may be overseeing pay restraint among their workers but their own salaries have rocketed by an average 16% over the past year.

Pay packets have risen by an average of more than £500,000 to a typical £3.91 million and are now at their highest since 2017, according to the High Pay Centre.

The increase is attributed partly to pay-outs under long-term incentive programmes.

It means the typical chief executive was paid 118 times more than the average full-time worker last year, compared with 108 times in 2021.

The biggest packages were handed out to the CEOs of AstraZeneca (Sir Pascal Soriot) and BAE Systems (Charles Woodburn) with awards of £15.3m and £10.7m respectively. Emma Walmsley, boss of GlaxoSmithKline, was the highest female earner with £8.45m.

Ben van Beurden, the former boss of energy giant Shell with £9.7m, and BP’s Bernard Looney securing £10.03m featured in the top six biggest earners after both firms reported record profits on soaring energy prices.

The pay of CEOs comes amid calls for restraint from Downing Street and the Bank of England as wage rises are seen as partly responsible for soaring inflation.

Huw Pill, chief economist at the Bank, issued an apology in May after telling workers they would have to accept they would be poorer to help to bring down inflation.

However, there are continued calls for UK companies to pay executives more in order to maintain global competitiveness.

Julia Hoggett, chief executive of the London Stock Exchange, said Britain not as generous on pay as companies in the United States.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) said the report showed Britain was a “land of grotesque extremes”.

“We need an economy that delivers better living standards for all – not just those at the top,” said Paul Nowak, general secretary of the TUC.

But economic think tank the Adam Smith Institute said “knee-jerk attacks” on chief executive pay were unhelpful, and said more attention needed to be applied to the benefits for the wider economy.

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