Executive pay rises despite the recession

Salaries rose 10% at the FTSE 100 companies last year, annual Guardian survey reveals

Executives at Britain's top companies enjoyed salary rises of 10 per cent last year despite the financial crisis and huge losses on the stock market.

The full and part-time directors of the FTSE 100 received more than £1bn last year, according to the Guardian's annual survey of boardroom pay.

The survey found that while bonuses had fallen, the executive salary increases were more than three times the 3.1 per cent average pay rise for private sector workers.

It also revealed that the 10 most highly executives earned £170m last year-up from £140m in 2007.

The survey is likely to increase pressure on the government to restrain salaries at the top companies. A campaign to create a high pay commission to cub excessive salaries and bonuses has received widespread public support.

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable said: "The Guardian's analysis shows the breathtaking cynicism involved in a lot of executive pay deals, which are unrelated to either personal or corporate performance and involve people who are very well off helping themselves to larger salaries when private sector wages in many companies are being cut."

The chief executive of Reckitt Benckiser, Bart Becht, was the highest paid boss last year, receiving £36.8m in pay, bonuses, perks and share incentive schemes.

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, said: "The recession has done nothing to stop the gap between top directors and the rest of their staff getting wider every year. It is even more offensive when the Institute of Directors has called for spending cuts that would hit pensioners, the poor and low-paid public sector staff.

"We've already had the 1980s-style recession, it looks depressingly like we are going back to 1980s greed-is-good politics too."