The number of companies paying seven-figure salaries to their directors has passed 1,000, statistics show.
The latest data from Companies House reveals that most of the directors in question earn considerably more than £1m a year, with at least 50 on basic pay of at least £5m.
The Companies House data, analysed by Philip Beresford, author of The Sunday Times Rich List, include only basic pay and pension contributions. Directors usually top these up with generous bonuses and share options.
Steve Tatton, editor of Executive Compensation Review, said a culture of incentivising senior management began in the early 1990s, as directors started to demand pay closer to the remuneration levels of US boardrooms.
He said salaries had risen as directors became increasingly willing to move jobs, and companies responded by paying ‘golden handcuffs’ to persuade executives to stay put.
In the past year alone, total pay for directors of Britain’s 350 largest public companies rose by an average of more than 18%, according to research by Income Data Services.