Revealed: Thousands of Britain’s top bankers become Euro millionaires while workers pay clipped to 1 per cent

HSBC pic credit BBC

HSBC. Five senior executives due to share £33.4m Pic credit: BBC


The day  after the general election the House of Commons library released a flood of papers which had been held up because of  purdah rules until after the result was known.

One of the most revealing papers was one on Banking Executives’ Renumeration in the UK. It drew on two sources – Britain’s submission  ( required by EU rules ) to the European Banking Authority and British sources such as company reports and details from the banks themselves about long term incentives for senior executives.

The facts revealed in the annexes to this report confirm what a lot of people have suspected but have not always been able to prove. There is-a widening gulf between the top and the bottom that has been going on during the fiercest period of austerity which has seen real wages for million falling. If John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, and Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, had access to this information during the election it could have been dynamite.

Two facts are extraordinary. This boom in higher executive pay came under the coalition between 2012 and 2015 when David Cameron and George Osborne were actively pursing wage freezes and minimal wage rises in the public sector.

Second it is the scale of it – it is not a handful of  new bankers becoming Euro millionaires, it is thousands of them.

And for the very, very top executives at five of our biggest retail banks it is untold riches if they meet performance targets.

The wider picture only came out because of a  European Commission directive to collect figures from all 28 EU members on how many bankers are earning over 1 million euro (£884,300 at current rates) a year. At the time the Euro would have been worth less – but even so it is a large sum.

Britain will no longer have to supply this when we leave the EU.

The figures show startling increases in senior staff employed by the banking industry falling into this bracket between 2012 and 2015 across nearly all sectors. Altogether the number of higher earners has risen nearly 300 per cent over this period, from 1272 to 3551.

Among the bigger rises are those in investment banking where the numbers earning this figure and more has risen from 947 to 2146. In asset management the numbers rose from 94 to 415 while those in high street banks rose from 52 to 105.

The average salary among the 2146 top earners in investment banking was 2,021,000 euro or over £1.78 million a year. Among the 415 people in asset management it was even higher at 2,201,000 euro or £1.946 million a year. In retail banking the 105 people averaged a little less at 1,789.000 euro or £1.582 million each a year.

Equally damning is a survey taken from five banks in Britain – HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds, Santander and the state owned RBS.

It looked at the money the five to eight top executives could make. At Lloyds 8 people share £24.9 a million a year between them. The figure for Barclays was £27.1m and at HSBC the top five people shared a whopping £33.4m.

Figures for the state owned RBS are lower at £11.35m while at Santander it was £10.6m.

As already known the chairmen and chief executives also get good pay packets worth millions.

What this says is that the coalition of David Cameron and Nick Clegg were happy to preside over this boom and impose severe austerity, and job cuts to pay for the mess the very same bankers created  by triggering the  crash in 2008.

As the song goes : “It’s the poor what gets the blame, It’s the rich what gets the pleasure, Isn’t it a blooming shame? ”

For not much longer I suspect given the current climate.

I have written about this in Tribune magazine. The House of Commons library report is  here for those who wish to read it





Unison:Union Democracy on Trial


Dave Prentis, general secretary, Unison Pic Credit: Twitter


On Monday a three day public hearing begins  into serious allegations over the running of the election campaign that saw Dave Prentis elected general secretary of Britain’s largest public sector union, Unison last year.

The Certification Officer has ordered the hearing after every candidate who stood against him filed complaints alleging that union resources were used by officials – who should be neutral during elections – to favour Dave Prentis against them.

The hearing is according to an Acas spokesperson is  unprecedented. There are  often grievances from individual candidates who feel they have been badly treated and quote the rule book back at  the  union but in this case every single candidate who stood against Dave Prentis has complained. Nor is it one  Left faction against another – whatever political standpoint any of the candidates might have – they appear to be united in complaining that the odds were stacked against them. I have also  written a news piece for Tribune magazine.

The four complainants are Heather Wakefield, John Burgess, Jon Rogers and Roger Bannister .

The hearing has an added spice because of the leaking of a covert tape  of an union official meeting in Congress House, London which appears to show overzealous support for ” Team Dave” as his election campaign was known by officials working in the union’s time and using union resources. This has been covered in Private Eye whose reporting seems likely to be referenced in the hearing.

Officially ACAS issued this release: “The applicants allege that, during the election period, the Union breached a number of its rules and a paragraph of the General Secretary 2015 Election Procedures as well as section 49 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. This is the full hearing of the complaints following the preliminary hearing held on 6 October 2016.”

Full details of the proceedings and the issues are listed here.

As people can see it is a detailed series of complaints. It also raises questions around the scrutiny of elections by Electoral Reform Services and the original handling of the complaints and whether the scrutineers were sufficiently independent of the union.

One complaint says:”The Scrutineer/ Electoral Reform Society did not independently investigate and respond to the complaints that were made to it in relation to the General Secretary 2015 Election in accordance with the terms of reference of the election timetable and procedure. Specifically with reference to the complaints arising from the disclosure of the audio tape of the meeting held on 21 October in the UNISON Greater London Regional Office.”

It will also test the interpretations by both  the union and the complainants about exactly what was said to whom and where and whether this did effect the election.

And it contains allegations that a senior official – “Cliff Williams, Assistant General Secretary,_ encouraged paid officials across the Union to liaise with employers where the branch might be unsympathetic towards Dave Prentis, to work towards distributing literature in support of Dave Prentis.”

And there are allegations against Liz Snape ( who is the long time partner of Dave Prentis) and a union assistant general secretary, encouraged branches to nominate him.

The public hearing is at Fleetbank House,2-5 Salisbury Square LONDON EC4Y 8JX beginning at 10.0am.

Exclusive: Francis Maude’s secret gold plated banker’s pension

Francis Maude: The man with the gold plated pension. Pic courtesy: The Guardian

Armchair audit is  raising its sights. As well as looking as councillors like Brian Coleman, it is now turning the spotlight  on auditing the  seriously wealthy to see if they follow David Cameron’s dictum that we are in it all together.

Francis Maude is the public face for taking on the public sector trade unions and  insisting their low paid members are being offered the best possible  pension terms which anyone in the private sector will be really envious.

But is everyone in the private sector worse off than public sector workers? Not Mr Maude for a start.

He has taken one hit and is about to take another since he rejoined the Conservative led coalition.

His  Cabinet Office minister salary  is £98,740 (includes MP’s salary of £65,738). This is a reduction of £5197 on his Labour predecessor, Tessa Jowell.

It is his pension history which marks the real divide. When he reaches retirement age at 2018 he will be able – unlike his public sector colleagues –  to be able to draw FOUR pensions.

 He will get the state pension – promised by the coalition to reach £140 a week – which will go to everybody.

He will get  TWO public sector pensions – one as an MP and one as minister. Their arrangements are hideously complicated – and not as open as figures available for public sector workers.

As an MP  since 1983 of 28 years standing ( he was out of parliament between 1992-97) by 2015 he will entitled – assuming a virtual wage freeze – to a pension of around £31,000 a year because he has a private sector pension and this taken into consideration to save taxpayer’s cash. Otherwise it would be worth over £46,000.

But while workers will be paying higher pension contributions Mr Maude is able to pay less under this deal. His contribution rate drops from 7.9 per cent to 5.9 per cent.

His minister’s pension by 2015 will be worth over £10,000 a year. His contributions, to be fair, are now 11.9 per cent and will rise to 18 per cent.

This gives him a state pension in excess of £40,000 a year – TEN times the average pension of lower paid civil servants bearing the brunt of the cuts and FIVE times the average civil servant pension. For that matter it is also FIVE times the average teacher’s pension.

But this is by no means the full picture. These calculations  miss out Mr Maude’s private pension – which is a huge elephant in the negotiating room.

 During the period he was out of office Mr Maude was director of  27 companies between 1992 and 2011. Six were dissolved and three went bust.

 But standing out from the lot is a period of over two years from February 1994 to November 1996 when Mr Maude was managing director of  investment bankers,Morgan Stanley, in London and New York.

The accounts are still available at Companies House and the salaries – paid in 1990s money – were stratospheric for directors.

The highest paid director’s salary went from £786,873  in 1994 to £1,234,690 in 1995 and to £1,708, 063  in 1996 – a rise  of well in excess of 100 per cent. And that excludes pension payments.

Mr Maude’s salary is not  identified –  but as MD in two countries – it will be nearer to those  figures – plus a pension to boot.

 The Cabinet Office declined to comment on his private pensions arrangements. But a City management consultant told me:

“It would be inconceivable that Morgan Stanley would not have paid Mr Maude a high pension because it is a much more tax efficient way of paying out money. Often City firms offer pensions equivalent to say 10 years service, rather than three, as a way of giving more money to people when they leave.”

Indeed Mr Maude had a lot of spare cash in 1996. Land registry records reveal that on 1st August 1996 Mr Maude and his wife Christina, bought for cash a large farmhouse and land at  Dial Post in West Sussex.  Property around there with land goes now for sums well in excess of £1m.

Perhaps the time has come for Mr Maude to reveal his true pension status when he is lecturing people to settle for less for life. He is the Government’s Mr Transparency and has released lots of personal data on individual civil servant’s  pay and pensions.

Just this weekend, his boss at the Cabinet Office, Nick Clegg, called for more transparency on top executive pay and perks. Mr Maude could lead by example by revealing the historic facts of his secret pension deal.

 My guess is that he has a private fund worth well over £1m on top of his three other state pensions. Prove me wrong, Mr Maude.

You can of course express your own views – you might feel Francis Maude is worth a mega pension, or you may feel he doesn’t  deserve anything like it.. You can e-mail him on .