The capital’s transport chief says he will “make no apology” for offering bonuses to executives if Transport for London breaks even by next year.
He insisted it was right to offer bonuses if TfL breaks even on a day-to-day basis, as required by the Government by the end of next March — but said he personally would not accept one.
Last month the Standard revealed that almost 600 TfL officials received in excess of £100,000 in the last financial year, with 37 of the highest earners sharing almost £1.6 million in bonuses.
This was despite TfL, which is seeking a further £900 million in taxpayer-funded bailouts to keep services running until next March, being under Government orders to “demonstrate prudence” in making performance-related pay awards.
Mr Byford, speaking at TfL’s remuneration committee last week, said TfL was making progress in eradicating a £3 billion deficit and had opened the Northern line extension to Battersea and the Elizabeth line.
He dismissed the public perception of fat cats as wrong. He said: “I make no apology for the fact that there is a prospect for individual directors and chief officers to earn a performance award.
“We really do run the risk of seeing a further exodus of talent. How does that, in any way shape or form, help this organisation if we passively allow this to continue?
“I’m using every tool at my disposal to encourage people to stay and to reward them for continued really good work against the odds.”
But he added: “I do exempt myself from that. I think it’s self-serving that I should put myself up for a performance award, so I will neither seek nor accept a performance award.”
Mr Byford said he had decided in March not to accept a bonus for the 2022/23 financial year, but said boardroom colleagues did not have to follow his lead.
He is entitled to a bonus worth up to 50 per cent of his £355,000 annual salary, while colleagues can receive up to 30 per cent of their salaries.
“I concluded it would not be right,” he said. “That’s s my personal decision. I’m not coerced into that. I feel it’s the right thing to me personally do. I certainly don’t expect others to do that. That is their choice.”