Executive Pay: UK's Top Bosses 'See 12% Rise'

Executive pay has trebled over the past 10 years, despite the UK's banking crisis and double-dip recession, according to an independent think tank.

Over the last financial year, the chief executives of Britain's top companies have seen pay increase by 12% on average to £4.8m - or 185 times the average wage - the High Pay Centre said in a report.

It blamed the Government's failure to act for the rise, which compares to a pay increase of just 2.8% for most British workers.

New measures that give shareholders the power to veto executive pay increases are "a step in the right direction", the report said, but a vote every three years is "unlikely to achieve significant change".

And over the course of the so-called shareholder spring - when investors had the opportunity to vote against bosses' pay packages - only two in the FTSE 100 were rejected, it highlighted.

Deborah Hargreaves, the High Pay Centre's director, said it was crucial to keep the issue in the spotlight.

"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," she said.

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

She added that the pay increases were "damaging to the economy and to the morale of Britons struggling to make a living".

The majority of growth has not been in salaries, the report found, but in bonuses, grants of restricted shares, long-term incentive plans and new pay structures.

The think tank said a "dramatic simplification" of top pay packages was needed, because "in the vast majority of cases, the way leaders are rewarded remains complex and hidden from public scrutiny".

"High pay - with rewards that are out of kilter with results - is having a corrosive impact on our living standards, our economy and our society," Ms Hargreaves added.

"It damages public trust in businesses and it demoralises employees whose rewards for their efforts are tiny in comparison with their bosses."

A Department for Business spokesman said: "We have taken firm action to reform the framework for executive pay, so that shareholders have the right tools to challenge companies when pay is excessive."

Last month, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) ordered some JP Morgan workers to pay tax - or face legal action - over allegations the firm transferred salary payments offshore.

HMRC said the money was "disguised remuneration" and not retirement benefits as claimed.