The High Pay Centre publishes an annual review of the pay packages of the chief executives of the FTSE 100 – the 100 biggest companies on the London Stock Exchange. The most recent review found that the average pay package of these CEOs was £4.5 million a year and that on average they earned 132 times the average salary of a full-time UK worker. These figures have increased greatly since just 20 years ago: in 1998, for example, the average FTSE 100 CEO received £1 million, while the ratio of FTSE 100 CEO pay to the average pay of a full-time UK worker was 47:1.
It would take a typical full-time worker over 130 years to earn the pay package that the average FTSE 100 chief executive receives in just one year. In recent years, high pay has continued to rise, while pay for the vast majority has stagnated.
Prime Minister Theresa May has previously promised to take action on this issue, including by making executive pay packages subject to strict annual shareholder votes, putting worker representatives on company boards and making businesses publish pay ratios. However, the government’s published plans fall short of these promises. For instance, the government has abandoned the proposal for binding annual shareholder votes, while plans for employee representation on company boards have been greatly watered down.
We need to go further on this issue. At the June 2017 General Election I stood on a manifesto that pledged to tackle pay inequality by introducing a levy on companies with staff on very high pay. The manifesto also pledged to bring in a maximum pay ratio of 20:1 for the public sector and for companies bidding for public contracts.
I will continue to press for real action to ensure fairness in pay and an economy that works for all.