Unless you read the financial pages you may not be aware of Corporate Britain’s latest eye-catching payout: a £92m remuneration package for Bert Becht (not to be confused with Bertold Brecht). He is the chief executive of Reckitt Beneckiser, which makes products such as Vanish and Dettol.
To be fair, Becht has set up a charitable foundation to which he has given more than £100m. Even so; isn’t there an issue with this kind of payout just months after the credit crunch?
Vince Cable told me last night this was “extraordinary” and “unbelievable” and showed the often painful differential between the highest and lowest-paid workers.
Lord Mandelson wouldn’t comment; presumably because he doesn’t want to pour fuel on the current business vs Labour row.
More curious though is the lack of comment from George Osborne, shadow chancellor. After all, he was quick to criticise the pay package of Bob Diamond, head of Barclays Capital, during the chancellors’ debate.
The Tories are revelling in their growing support from business over their National Insurance policy (Sir Stuart Rose just told the Today programme this morning that Gordon Brown had ‘insulted the intelligence’ of Britain’s leading businessmen). Today they have unveiled a dozen more business leaders backing them – making 81in total.
But the Conservatives should remember that many people see them as not only pro-business and pro-City but too much so. Tempering that message with more talk of corporate responsibility is surely an open goal for Osborne and his colleagues.
By the way: Gordon Brown (on Today) has just cited Gerry Grimstone, chair of Standard Life and adviser to the government, who this morning – in the FT – became the first high-profile businessman to question the Tory NI plan. Grimstone claimed it would be impossible to increase the existing programme of effiency savings (as the Tories claim) to pay for their partial reversal of the NI rise.
The unfortunate truth for Brown is that Grimstone is still hugely outnumbered. 68:1 at the last count.