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EXCLUSIVE: Housing chief executives’ pay rises above inflation 18 September 2014 | By Jess…

EXCLUSIVE: Housing chief executives’ pay rises above inflation

Chief executives of the biggest housing associations in the UK received an inflation-busting 3.85% pay rise on average in the 2013-14 financial year, Inside Housing can reveal.

CE, Anchor

Bucking the trend: Jane Ashcroft was the highest paid female chief executive and the second highest paid overall

But the pay of the 22 female chief executives in the biggest 100 associations rose only 0.96% in the last year, widening the pay gap among housing leaders.

Male chief executives saw their average take-home pay rise 3.98%.

The average chief executive is now paid £173,321, including their basic salary, bonus and car allowance, compared to £166,890 in the previous financial year.

Not all female chief executives are low earners – Anchor’s Jane Ashcroft is the highest paid female chief executive, and the second highest paid chief executive overall, taking home £322,316. But on average female chief executives received £162,823 in 2013/14 – more than £10,000 below the average assocaition chief executive pay overall.

James Tickell, a director at housing consultancy Campbell Tickell, said: ‘I don’t think it’s coincidence – I suspect there’s something quite deep in there about the psychology of boards.’

However Susan Manning, human resources director in the property and infrastructure business at consultancy Capita, said that female chief executives are clustered around the smaller-sized housing providers, and the picture will change as they advance in their careers. ‘There are more men that have been chief executives longer, with more experience, that are getting that job,’ she said.

Within the average for all housing providers, seven chief executives had pay rises of more than 10%.

The biggest single percentage increase was David Ashmore, the outgoing chief executive of GreenSquare Group, at 21.27% – although the organisation says this is an anomaly, because Mr Ashmore’s pay was lower in 2012/13 due to taking unpaid leave, and boosted in 2013/14 by a one-off retirement bonus of £25,000.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: ‘A chief executive must be able to predict the issues that could affect their organisation before they happen. Such leaders are in demand across all Britain’s sectors, both public and private.

‘It’s imperative that housing associations – which provide high quality homes and services for millions of people – can attract and retain such talent.’

One recruitment consultant who didn’t want to be named defended salary increases for chief executives as reasonable after a number of years of pay freezes as a result of austerity measures, or overcoming difficulties getting their organisation back on track.

Of Martin Armstrong, chief executive of the Wheatley Group, who had a pay rise of just under 10%, for example, he said: ‘He was underpaid for a long time. He was right at the bottom of the cohort and he’s done an amazing job.’ The Wheatley Group declined to comment.

Instead, the recruitment consultant said attention should be paid to chief executives being paid ‘large sums’ to run relatively simple organisations.

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