Directors’ pensions worth 26 times the average pension fund

Directors of the UK’s top organistaions have amassed pensions pots that are 26 times the average occupational pension, according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC) PensionsWatch survey.

The survey, which analyses the pension arrangements of 329 directors from 102 of the UK’s top organisations, shows the average transfer value for a director’s pension is worth an average of £3.8 million, an increase of £400,000 since last year, providing an average annual pension of £227,726.

The highest-paid directors in each organisation have pension pots worth £5.26 million, providing an average annual pension of £298,503. The largest pension pot in this year’s survey is worth over £21 million and would pay out an annual pension worth over £1.3million.

The survey shows that despite organisations continuing to move away from defined benefit (DB) schemes for the majority of staff, 54% of top directors are still in DB schemes and many directors are in more than one scheme. Nearly two-thirds of companies (63.5%) provide DB schemes for at least some directors.

For directors in defined contribution (DC) schemes, the average company contribution was £134,760 and the average contribution rate was 19%, around three times the rates normally available to employees (6.7%).

Many directors that do not participate in pension schemes receive cash payments instead. Nearly one in three directors (31%) received cash payments either in place of participation in a scheme or as top-ups. The average cash payment was £120,906 and the highest in the survey was £420,000.

A further 25 directors also received payments towards personal pensions plans, worth an average of £181,072.

Several of the organisations included in the survey have announced changes to group pension schemes for staff, including scheme closures.

The TUC is calling for greater clarity in the reporting of pensions, including the mandatory disclosure of accrual and contribution rates, so that shareholders are able to scrutinise directors’ pension arrangements and ensure they are fair and reasonable.

The TUC also believes directors and employees should be members of the same schemes and enjoy the same benefits, as is the case in the public sector.

Brendan Barber, general secretary at the TUC, said: “Employers often tell us that decent staff pension schemes are no longer affordable. Directors’ representatives are in the vanguard of those attacking public sector pensions. Yet greed is still good in the nation’s top boardrooms where directors continue to reward themselves with seven figure pension pots.

“Top bosses justify their pensions, pay and bonuses as rewards for success. Yet many companies refuse to fully disclose these lavish arrangements either to shareholders or to their own members of staff.

“While boardrooms are still paved with pensions gold, most staff now get no employer pension support, and even the minority who do have seen big cuts in pensions provision as schemes have closed or had benefits reduced. Companies should offer all their staff the same pension arrangements and put an end to this unfair two-tier pension system.”

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