TUC figures show average retirement savings of top UK executives are now 24 times size of occupational pension
Directors of the UK’s largest companies have increased their retirement savings over the past year by an average of £400,000 to £4.3m, according to the TUC’s tenth annual PensionsWatch survey.
The boost to executives’ pensions gives each director included in the survey an average pension of at least £240,000, said the TUC.
The largest pot was amassed by Sir Frank Chapman, the 59-year-old chief executive of gas company BG Group who has a pension worth £19.4m, which could give him an income of £1m a year in retirement. Peter Brennan, who retired as the boss of pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca in June, left the company with a retirement income of at least £978,000.
PensionsWatch, which analyses the pension arrangements of 351 directors from FTSE 100 companies, found the average director’s pension has increased faster than most ordinary pension schemes and is now 24.4 times the size of the average occupational pension (£9,828).
Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, said: “Companies continue to chip away at the pensions of ordinary workers while awarding their directors solid platinum pensions worth hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.
“Top executives already enjoy huge pay packages that go up every year irrespective of the success of their company or the state of the economy. These salaries alone guarantee lucrative pensions so the generous packages uncovered are an insult to the vast majority of workers who are denied such favourable terms.”
The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) said it was concerned that executives pensions were outstripping those of ordinary workers.
Darren Philp, director of policy, said: “It follows that people who earn more will accrue bigger pensions. But investors may have important questions about fairness if the pensions of directors are disproportionately more generous than those of other staff.
“More transparency is needed around boardroom pensions. Boards need to be open about their pension arrangements so that shareholders such as pension funds can hold top management to account.”
Workers who rely on defined contribution (DC) occupational schemes depend on increases in the value of shares and other assets, but saw little improvement over the past year. The euro crisis and recessions in the UK and across the continent have hit stock markets and property markets, limiting the scope for investment growth.
Barber added: “The gap between the pensions of top directors and everyone else does not just reflect the excess of the super-rich, but shows just how poor pensions are for ordinary workers in the private sector, where more than two out of three get no employer pension help.”
The survey found that companies contributed £144,508 on average to directors’ DC schemes. The average employer contribution rate to a director’s pension as a percentage of salary is 22%.
“This is nearly four times the size of the average employer contribution rate (6%) in DC pensions. The figure is also more than seven times the size of the maximum employer contribution required under the new automatic enrolment regime that will start being phased in for all workers from next month,” the report said.
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