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What do an ex-Marxist and an investment banker have in common?

Posted on 16 February 2011 .
Tags: BSA, British Social Attitudes, income and welfare, social and political attitudes

Top people's pay is in the news again: Eric Pickles, Communities Secretary, is today proposing that councillors vote on local government salaries over £100K.  And yesterday, Anthony Fry, a BBC Trustee, told the Public Accounts Committee that the BBC should have taken action on senior executive salaries much sooner. He said that some BBC salaries will seem like telephone numbers to those on ordinary wages, and that concern about top BBC salaries is a matter of legitimate public concern.

So with their very different backgrounds, Eric Pickles (an ex Marxist, Nick Robinson revealed this morning) and Anthony Fry (with his career in investment banking) are both focusing hard on senior salaries funded from the public purse.

But beyond bankers' bonuses, where is the debate about top salaries in the private sector? After all, the public is bothered about the gap between rich and poor whether it's in the private or public sector. Our British Social Attitudes survey found that four in five (78%) thought that the gap between those with high incomes and those with low incomes is too large. And they thought that the chair of a large national company should earn only six times that of an unskilled factory worker. 

The reality of the pay gap between top and bottom salaries in the private sector is, of course, much bigger than a multiple of six.

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