Bonuses Facing 'Significant' Cuts But Top Bosses Will Still Receive Large Windfall Payouts

The bosses of top UK companies are facing significant bonus cuts but are still expected to receive windfalls worth 60% of their salaries, according to research.

Less than 10% of FTSE 100 firms are planning to increase bonuses, with 17% predicting payouts will fall by more than a quarter, a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) revealed.

Nearly half of firms believe bonuses will hold firm, while PwC said companies were bowing to pressure to "exercise restraint" after bonuses had crept up to around 80% of pay before the financial crisis struck.

According to research from the Incomes Data Services, FTSE 100 chief executives enjoyed an average bonus payout of £707,000 in 2007/8.

Tom Gosling, head of PwC's reward practice, said bonuses were expected to fall to 60% of pay as the "calls from shareholders for pay and bonus restraint appear to have hit home".

There are increasing expectations that banks will also be holding back on perks in the round of new year payouts as some - such as the Royal Bank of Scotland - are reportedly planning to slash bonus pots to help pay fines connected with the Libor scandal.

The PwC survey found that 38% of companies surveyed also predicted a pay freeze for their highest fliers - a record number since the 2009 financial crisis, although only 15% predicted a cut.

However, 52% said salaries will rise by 3% to 4%, and 10% predicted a sharper increase.

Gosling warned against expectations for pay and bonuses to fall dramatically.

He said: "There is no doubt that the intense shareholder, public and political focus on executive pay over the last 18 months has caused a change of approach.

"But the level of impact is still only modest and anyone hoping for a large-scale reduction in executive pay and bonus payouts in the long-term is likely to be disappointed."

Most - 55% - of those surveyed predicted salaries will be the same in three to five years' time, with 25% hoping for a hike.

Gosling added that companies are concerned scrutiny of pay will deter foreign executives: "The UK benefits hugely from the flow of talent to our shores, bringing with it investment, jobs and tax revenues and care must be taken not to damage our competitive position."