Angela Rayner calls on government to declare any meetings where bankers’ bonuses raised

Labour’s Angela Rayner has demanded No 10’s chief of staff declare any meetings ministers may have held where scrapping a cap on bankers’ bonuses has been discussed.

It comes after the government faced intense criticism and accusations of hypocrisy this week over plans to cut controls on City bosses’ pay while calling for wage restraint in the public sector.

In a letter to Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barclay, Labour’s deputy leader questioned the government’s “priorities” and said the plans were of “huge concern”.

Her letter follows a report in the Financial Times in June 2021 that suggested the issue of a cap on bankers’ bonuses was raised by an international bank chief executive at a “virtual” financial services roundtable the same month.

At the time, chancellor Rishi Sunak, who attended the meeting alongside Boris Johnson, was said to be resisting pressure to ditch the cap — a measure introduced after the 2008 financial crash which limits bonuses to the size of a banker’s salary.

In today’s letter, Ms Rayner called on Mr Barclay to immediately release the minutes of the meeting with banking executives, and demanded to know whether any further meetings had occurred where the issue was discussed.

Labor’s deputy leader also requested to know whether the issue has ever been brought up by a Conservative party donor.

Ms Rayner also highlighted a leaked letter detailing government plans to alter rules on director and non-executive director pay, which sparked outrage among opposition parties and unions.

She said: ”It appears this Government’s “new approach” is to prioritize increasing banker’s bonuses rather than helping working people.

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“The hypocrisy of removing restrictions for bankers while the public sector face a prolonged period of below-inflation pay rises is clear. It is an indication of where this government’s priorities lie. “

A government spokesperson said: “Claims that the government is planning to ease restrictions on bankers’ pay are untrue. Ministerial meetings with external organizations are declared in line with the government’s transparency agenda.

“We are exploring whether there are any unnecessary restrictions on paying non-executive directors in shares instead, as we set out at the end of last month. This could ensure they are fully invested in the success of the company they run, helping to protect and generate jobs, growth and investment.

“This is about how non-executive directors are paid, not how much. And the proposal has nothing to do with paying bankers more, or the bankers’ bonus cap. This remains in place and there are no plans to remove it.”

Responding to Ms Rayner’s letter, a Conservative source said: “Angela Rayner should stop trying to position herself for Labor leadership by wasting time writing pointless letters about false accusations. If Labor had done their research, they would know that the government has never proposed any changes to bankers’ bonuses.

“They should spend less time playing politics and misleading the public and more time doing their research.

“Labor should also get their own house in order on transparency – they continue to break a Leveson Inquiry pledge to publish which senior media figures they are meeting with.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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