Executive pay is four times greater than that of workers

Image: CC_Andrew*_Piccadilly_CircusThe pay of company executives has increased by an average of 12 per cent in the last financial year, more than four times that of other workers, despite the economic downturn, according to a study.

The High Pay Centre said the average pay of chief executives trebled over the past decade, in the face of the banking crisis, recession and public anger over bonuses.

Despite promises of government action, little has changed, with shareholders struggling to rein in excessive payments, the think tank said.

Deborah Hargreaves, director of the High Pay Centre, said: "There has been no clear change in the boardroom culture and no recognition that these pay awards are unacceptable.

"It's wrong that Britain's bosses are taking home more and more money as their companies shrink, their employees are squeezed and jobs are being lost.

"Chief executives are hoping that their big bonus and their inflated rewards culture will escape attention now that the banking crisis has passed.

"These pay increases are damaging to the economy and to the morale of Britons struggling to make a living."

Most of the growth in top pay in recent years has been in bonuses, shares, long-term incentive plans and new "innovative" wage structures, the report said.

Ms Hargreaves has warned that these schemes are not an efficient method of rewarding performance and that companies are "not getting what they pay for".

Research from the High Pay Centre last month found that pay packages for the average FTSE 100 executive increased by 27 per cent last year, despite the wider climate of austerity.

These bosses enjoyed average pay and benefits worth £4m each despite the backlash against big basic salaries and huge bonuses.