Property giants have been accused of rewarding bosses for “exacerbating the housing crisis” after spending £63.6m on chief executive pay last year while sitting on more than 470,000 unused plots of land. The 10 firms completed and sold 86,685 homes last year, but hold planning permission for 470,068 other plots of land on which homes have not been built. The UK needs an estimated 340,000 new homes a year to meet demand.
The chief executives of Britain’s 10 biggest housing developers raked in a combined £63.6m, earning a median sum of £2.1m, according to figures compiled by the High Pay Centre. Four FTSE 100 companies handed £53.2m to their top bosses in total, a median pay packet of £5.7m. The High Pay Centre said its findings raised questions about whether executives “should receive such vast sums of money, particularly given the many criticisms levelled at the big housing developers regarding the extent to which they are exacerbating the housing crisis”.
Luke Hildyard, the think tank’s director, told The Independent: “Homes are a public good and housing companies are charged with quite an important social responsibility. If the housing companies don’t play their part in delivering enough homes then we have real problems. There is something particularly unseemly about people who are supposed to be providing a public good raking in millions or even tens of millions.”
The 10 companies paid a combined £150m to chief executives and other directors last year. Barratt, Berkeley, Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey – accounted for £131.1m of that sum.
The average UK construction worker is paid £24,964 a year, 89 times less than the median pay packet of the 10 housebuilders’ chief executives, according to the union Unite.
The pay disparity was greatest at Persimmon, where chief executive Jeff Fairburn earned £39m – equivalent to the average pay of 1,561 construction workers - last year. He was forced out of the firm in late 2018 after a public outcry over his £75m bonus. The pay ratio between Berkeley’s chief executive and the average construction worker was 331:1, at Taylor Wimpey it was 126:1, and at Barratt it was 113:1.