Bonuses paid to United Kingdom housing association chief executives have risen 4.7% in the last year, Inside Housing can reveal.
Inside Housing’s annual survey of chief executive pay, to be published in full next week, revealed that the average bonus was £17,519 in 2014/15, up from £16,737 in 2013/14.
David Cowans, chief executive of Places for People, took home the biggest bonus of any housing association chief executive. His performance-related pay was £137,598 in the 2014/15 financial year, an increase of more than 20% on his bonus last year and nearly £100,000 higher than any other bonus in the sector. Mr Cowans total pay for 2014/15 was £481,507.
The information is based on assessing the biggest 100 housing associations by number of homes owned and managed, only including the roughly one-third of these housing associations which pay a bonus.
Gera Patel, a partner at consultancy Campbell Tickell, said: “I would recommend that boards need to be clear why they are offering the bonus. Is this genuinely about rewarding exceptional performance or merely acknowledging that expected incremental improvements in the business have been achieved?. The latter might well be regarded as part of the chief executive’s role anyway, and does that really constitute exceptional?”
Annual accounts of housing associations do not typically spell out the reasons for setting bonuses at a particular level, unlike listed companies which provide a detailed breakdown.
Chris Phillips, chair of Places for People, said: “[Mr Cowans] consistently meets the board’s annual and long term performance criteria covering financial, social involvement, value for money, environmental and place building targets.” Just under a third (£43,112) of this bonus was related to the housing association’s non-social housing businesses.
Jane Ashcroft of Anchor took home the second biggest bonus, at £39,062. This is a 77% increase on her performance-related pay in 2013/14. Anchor’s chair, Pamela Chesters, said: “The bonus payments reflect perormance in meeting demanding financial, compliance, customer and employee targets for 2014/15, with a minimum threshold of 95% of target to be achieved before any bonus is payable against each of these elements. It is also worth noting that Anchor operates in care as well as in housing and that remuneration has been set at a level which allows us to attract and retain staff from competitors in that sector.”
Steve Stride, chief executive of Poplar Harca, also received one of the 10 biggest bonuses in the sector, taking home £21,000, a 6% rise. This was the largest bonus for any housing association of under 10,000 homes.
Bernadette Conroy, chair of Poplar Harca, said: “The board awarded a bonus because performance objectives were exceeded and tough organisational targets were achieved in a very challenging environment. This ensures our remuneration packages are competitive and offer value for money. Steve’s basic salary has actually reduced by 4% in real terms.”
Next week Inside Housing will publish the full results of its annual survey of chief executive pay. For the first time the survey extends beyond the biggest 100 housing associations, to reveal how much smaller and mid-sized housing associations pay their top bosses.
|Housing association||Chief executive||Biggest bonuses paid in 2014/15 financial year|
|Places for People||David Cowans||£137,598|
|Affinity Sutton||Keith Exford||£37,922|
|One Housing Group||Mick Sweeney||£31,520|
|A2 Dominion Group||Darrell Mercer||£31,300|
|Poplar Harca||Stephen Stride||£21,000|
|Hyde Group||Elaine Bailey*||£20,258|
|New Charter Housing Trust Group||Ian Munro||£18,335|
|*From 6 May 2014, when Ms Bailey joined Hyde to take over from Steve White|
UPDATE 3.9.2015 10.43am
This story has been updated to include a comment from the chair of Anchor