Past Event

Curbing top pay: Does making the rich poorer make the poor richer?

By 04.11.19Past EventAugust 27th, 2020No Comments

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Syndicate 3, Congress House
23-28 Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3LW


Robert Joyce, Deputy Director, IFS

Maya Goodfellow, Writer/Researcher

Helen O’Connor, Regional Organiser, GMB

Luke Hildyard, Director, High Pay Centre (Chair)

Pay at the top has become a controversial topic in UK politics, with the typical FTSE 100 CEO now making £3.6 million a year, while the richest 1% of the population taking home 15% of total incomes, compared to just 6% in the late 1970s.

But what effect does top pay have on the incomes of those in the middle and at the bottom? Some commentators have argued that there is no relationship between the two, and that the vast sums paid to CEOs, bankers and other leading professionals result from the additional economic value generated by these individuals. Curtailing their pay would simply mean companies were unable to fill key roles with people of the necessary calibre, resulting in poorly run organisations and lower prosperity for everyone.

On the other hand, it seems unlikely that the huge gains experienced by those at the top have not – at least in part – come at the expense of the wider workforce. The sums of money expended on those at the top are significant enough to make a material difference to the rest of the population, if distributed more evenly – and the evidence to suggest that attempts to achieve a more even distribution would adversely affect the UK economy is mixed at best. But if we are going to pursue this route, what policies would be most effective (for example, changes to the taxation system or corporate governance reforms)? And how likely would such measures be to win public support?

Our panel of academics, policy makers, union reps and campaigners will look to answer these questions, and discuss what can be done practically to ensure than business takes greater responsibility for low pay and poverty through addressing pay structures and worker voice.

Click HERE to attend