Perks cutback hits managers

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SENIOR managers are being forced to accept smaller company cars in a general purge on executive 'perks', according to a report published yesterday.

Top-of-the-range models have been cut back, while many firms have extended the life of cars from four to five years or 120,000 miles, Noble Lowndes, the pay and benefits consultancy, said.

The most indicative recessionary impact can be seen on the cash allowances given to directors and managers to buy their cars.

Executives on a salary of more than pounds 60,000 have seen the value of the car they are allowed reduced from pounds 35,600 to pounds 34,000. Managers in the salary band pounds 35,000 to pounds 40,000 have had the value cut as low as pounds 16,200.

Noble Lowndes said the past year had seen static expenditure on company cars, representing a reduction in real terms. About two thirds of the most senior company executives have a free choice in the type of car they can choose within a given price range.

Overall salary increases have been cut from an average of 10.9 per cent in 1991 to 6.9 per cent.

Other perks have also seen reductions, with a 17 per cent rise in companies demanding contributions to private medical insurance. Some schemes make staff pay the whole premium themselves, merely offering the bulk discount negotiated by the company.

The biggest growth has been in 'personal financial consulting', with 57 per cent of the 421 companies surveyed now offering this benefit. Largely provided by independent advisers paid on commission, the service is at minimum or no cost to employers.

The rising number of female executives has led to a continued increase in the number of companies providing extra maternity benefits.