Directors receive 26 times national average pension

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The Independent Online

The average director in the UK is paid a guaranteed company pension of almost £170,000 a year - more than 26 times the national average- according to a report from the Trades Union Congress published yesterday.

The report, the second of its annual PensionsWatch surveys, also reveals that the top paid UK executives have pension pots in excess of £10m.

Sir Christopher Gent, the former chief executive of Vodafone, has the largest pension of any UK-quoted company director, or former director, with a transfer value of £15.5m. BP's Lord Browne of Madingley is a close second with a pension fund totalling £13.9m, while Compass's Sir Francis MacKay is third with £13.7m. These pension pots will earn the directors an income of between £1m and £1.2m a year in retirement.

In contrast, the average UK occupational pension scheme pays out just £6,344 a year, equivalent to £122 a week.

It is not uncommon for directors to receive one-off payments when they leave a company. Rolf Stahel, the former chief executive of Shire Pharmaceuticals, was paid £4.1m contribution to his pension when he stepped down in 2002.

The report said the average annual company contribution to a director's salary is £80,000 - about 20 per cent of their salary. In contrast, the average company worker will receive about 6.5 per cent if they are in a defined benefit scheme, and just 4.5 per cent if they have a defined contribution scheme.

Brendan Barber, the general secretary of the TUC, said: "Employees in every sector have seen their pensions under attack, but few of those making the decisions show any willingness to sacrifice their own pensions. Fat cats are still supping the pensions cream, and have taken little or no notice of business leaders or ministers who say they should set an example."

The TUC also criticised the fact that most firms only offer a defined contribution scheme to many employees, in spite of most directors enjoying the benefits of defined benefit schemes.

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