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High Pay Centre - 2014 in Review

January:
Our research found that by 'fatcat Wednesday’, the third working day of the year, Britain's top bosses have already made more money than than the average worker will earn in the whole year.

The High Cost of High Pay – High Pay Centre analysis showed the hidden costs of big pay differentials within organisations - Workplaces with big pay gaps between highest and lowest wage earners suffer more industrial disputes, more sickness and higher staff turnover than employers with more equitable pay differentials.’

March:
High Pay Centre and partner organisations write to the Financial Reporting Council over concerns that companies are not fully complying with regulations on executive pay.  Following our letter, Vince Cable met with 30 FTSE 100 companies to warn them that further Government action would be necessary if companies did not address excessive executive pay.

April:
High Pay Centre polling finds that the public are more concerned about inequality than immigration, cutting taxes, or curbing benefits. 80% of British adults say cutting the gap between rich and poor should be a priority – more than say the government should reduce immigration, cut the benefit bill, or change the UK’s relationship with the EU. Even 80% of UKIP voters say Government should act to cut the gap between rich and poor – more than favour reductions in taxes or spending on benefits.

HPC goes international as Director Deborah Hargreaves writes for the New York Times on how to close the pay gap that has emerged across a wide range of advanced economies.

May:
Our film on income inequality in the UK is released, showing how top pay has increased to nearly £5 million a year, while wages for ordinary workers stagnate and more and more families are forced to resort to food banks.

June:
What would the neighbours say?  - Our report show how inequality in the UK results in much lower incomes for the poorest UK households, compared to those considered poorest in the other European countries that we consider our economic equals. The report prompted an editorial in the Sun, demanding more action to address inequality.

July:
Reform Agenda: How to make top pay fairer – Our report manifesto for tackling excessive executive pay opened up a debate about worker representation on boards and maximum pay ratios within companies. The paper was covered in all the major UK papers, including the front page of the Independent.

Cheques and the City – A report written by Professor Stephen Wilks, Professor Emeritus at Exeter University, estimated that 1,400 top lawyers and accountants were paid over £1 million in the UK last year.  The report highlighted a potential conflict of interest between legal and accountancy firms who are charged with, ensuring that markets can have trust and confidence in accounts and contracts.  On the other hand, the firms they scrutinise are their biggest customers and ultimately generate the multi-million pound pay packages for senior partners.

August:
Our ‘Inequality Briefing’ on regional inequality, showing that 9 of the 10 poorest regions in North West Europe are in the UK goes viral, with thousands of shares on facebook, twitter, and reddit plus coverage in the Mirror, Metro, New Statesman and Independent.

October:
Research for the High Pay Centre by Incomes Data Services finds that Performance-related pay is nothing of the sort.  Growth in executive pay, bonuses and incentive payments has vastly outpaced performance as measured by every indicator in common use. Analysis of pay data and key company performance metrics found that between 2000 and 2013, the median earnings of a FTSE 350 company director increased more than twice as fast as median pre-tax profits at FTSE 350 companies and four times as fast as their median market value.  FTSE 350 directors’ pay grew nearly twice as fast as pay for all full-time UK workers.  As part of this project, we also published a collection of essays and had a very interesting discussion with Peter Montagnon and the other essay writers exploring new ideas around performance-related pay.

High Pay Centre criticises the £29 million pay package awarded to BG Group CEO Helge Lund. BG Group eventually moderated his pay package following criticism from HPC and leading investor groups.

November:
Whoever you vote for, big business gets in – Our six-month long project examining corporate power kicks off a debate about the influence big business has on politics, specifically on policies impacting inequality.


Throughout the year we were mentioned in over 150 national media items, published 9 reports, hosted 11 public events, undertook dozens of speaking engagements and continued to encourage the ongoing debate around areas including top pay, corporate governance and inequality. Thank you for all your support – and here’s to a similarly busy and successful 2015!

Posted on 15 December 2014

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