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£175,000 pensions for top directors

FTSE 100 directors receiving pensions up to 29 times higher than rest of the workforce.

Today, the High Pay Commission (HPC) released a report highlighting the growing private sector divide in pensions between those of directors and the rest of the workforce.

"Directors' Pensions: in it for themselves?" reveals that the average FTSE 100 lead executive with a final salary pension scheme can expect to receive an annual pension worth almost £175,000 on retirement. In contrast, the annual average pension paid from a private sector final salary pension scheme is £5,860 for the rest of the workforce.

The divide between directors and other employees is also prevalent in the wider FTSE 350 companies: over 97 per cent of FTSE 350 executive directors have formal company-sponsored pension arrangements but only one third have stayed open for other workers.

This information is released at a time when many employee pension schemes are closing or getting smaller. Data from the Office for National Statistics indicates that the lowest paid workers are least likely to be members of occupational pension schemes.

HPC chairwoman Deborah Hargreaves said on the Today Programe this morning:

This has been going on for some time; lots of company pension schemes are being closed to the wider workforce while directors have looked after themselves.

She insisted that despite changes in tax relief for top rate pensions, the government should look at further changes where higher rate taxpayers are concerned.

Tess Riley is a freelance journalist and social justice campaigner. She also works, part time, for Streetbank, and can be found on Twitter at @tess_riley

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No, David Cameron’s speech was not “left wing”

Come on, guys.

There is a strange journalistic phenomenon that occurs when a party leader makes a speech. It is a blend of groupthink, relief, utter certainty, and online backslapping. It happened particularly quickly after David Cameron’s speech to Tory party conference today. A few pundits decided that – because he mentioned, like, diversity and social mobility – this was a centre-left speech. A leftwing speech, even. Or at least a clear grab for the liberal centre ground. And so that’s what everyone now believes. The analysis is decided. The commentary is written. Thank God for that.

Really? It’s quite easy, even as one of those nasty, wicked Tories, to mention that you actually don’t much like racism, and point out that you’d quite like poor children to get jobs, without moving onto Labour's "territory". Which normal person is in favour of discriminating against someone on the basis of race, or blocking opportunity on the basis of class? Of course he’s against that. He’s a politician operating in a liberal democracy. And this isn’t Ukip conference.

Looking at the whole package, it was actually quite a rightwing speech. It was a paean to defence – championing drones, protecting Britain from the evils of the world, and getting all excited about “launching the biggest aircraft carriers in our history”.

It was a festival of flagwaving guff about the British “character”, a celebration of shoehorning our history chronologically onto the curriculum, looking towards a “Greater Britain”, asking for more “national pride”. There was even a Bake Off pun.

He also deployed the illiberal device of inculcating a divide-and-rule fear of the “shadow of extremism – hanging over every single one of us”, informing us that children in UK madrassas are having their “heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate”, and saying Britain shouldn’t be “overwhelmed” with refugees, before quickly changing the subject to ousting Assad. How unashamedly centrist, of you, Mr Prime Minister.

Benefit cuts and a reduction of tax credits will mean the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for “equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome” will be just that – with the outcome pretty bleak for those who end up losing any opportunity that comes with state support. And his excitement about diversity in his cabinet rings a little hollow the day following a tubthumping anti-immigration speech from his Home Secretary.

If this year's Tory conference wins the party votes, it’ll be because of its conservative commitment – not lefty love bombing.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.