Fat cat energy bosses saw their pay soar last year, while British households faced skyrocketing bills. According to new research from the High Pay Centre think tank, median pay for FTSE 100 CEOs reached an astonishing £4m in 2022 – the highest in five years.
Energy firm chiefs rake in massive earnings amid household bill increases
As households across the UK dealt with rising bills, the CEOs of energy companies enjoyed significant pay hikes. Bernard Looney, the CEO of BP, doubled his earnings to a staggering £10.03m. Meanwhile, former Shell boss Ben van Beurden received £9.7m in pre-tax earnings. AstraZeneca chief Pascal Soriot topped the chart with £15.32m, followed by BAE Systems boss Charles Woodburn at £10.69m.
Mismatched pay ratios raise concerns
The research revealed that the median FTSE 100 CEO now earns 118 times the median full-time worker, up from 79 times in 2020. The large pay disparities have sparked outrage, particularly at a time when many households are struggling to make ends meet. Luke Hildyard, Director of the High Pay Centre, commented, "An economic model that prioritizes massive pay increases for executives who are already multi-millionaires is surely going wrong somewhere."
Trade unions criticize government's stance
Trade union leaders have slammed the government for allowing excessive executive salaries to contribute to inflation while advocating for modest pay increases for public sector workers. GMB General Secretary Gary Smith suggested that curbing pay at the top rather than for everyone else may be a more effective solution. However, Downing Street dismissed these claims and reiterated that it is up to private sector companies to determine how much they pay their staff.
Government focuses on tackling inflation as energy bills remain high
The government spokesperson stated that while shareholders hold companies accountable for high salaries, private sector firms must justify such pay in times of economic hardships. Meanwhile, the government said it is doing everything within its power to address inflation. This news comes as consultancy firm Cornwall Insight predicts a potential slight decrease in gas and electricity bills to £1,926 starting in October. However, the End Fuel Poverty Coalition has warned that the decrease may not significantly improve the financial situation for many families.
A Shell spokesperson defended executive remuneration, stating that it is benchmarked against European multinational companies and is aligned with performance targets over the last decade.