As we enter the bonus season – during which the public learns just how scandalously high this year’s bonuses for bankers, chief executives of pension funds and publicly and privately-owned corporations will be – I have a modest suggestion.
It would go some way, not only to alleviating the austerity measures reluctantly imposed by George Osborne upon the public, but would address the criticism that this government is benefiting the rich at the expense of the poor.
Ban all bonuses for a period of, say, three years.
This simple measure, given that Barclays’ bonus pool is up to £2 billion – and a simple estimate of the moneys available from the other banks and big corporations, suggests that it would easily raise £40bn-£50bn per year – would be a welcome bonus for the country.
It is true the employees affected by the bonus ban would not be able to use the annual windfall to replace their Aston Martins etc, but their salaries – Stephen Hester’s basic salary is £1.2 million and regarded as “modest” in financial circles – would still allow them a standard of living which the general population can only dream of.
To anticipate the question: why should these “experts” work for their employers without the incentive of a whacking great bonus, the answer is that, like the vast majority of the population they should do their jobs to the best of their abilities – because that’s what they’re paid to do.