The directors of Britainís largest companies are still awarding themselves average pay increases nearly three times higher than the national average, according to new figures.
The Guardian newspaper's annual pay survey of FTSE companies found that the average rise in 2003 was 12.8 per cent, about three times higher than the average pay increase of 3.7 per cent.
This took the average remuneration packet for a chief executive to £1.7m, some 70 times greater than the national average of £24,600. Almost 190 directors - all men Ė also enjoyed a basic pay package of more than £1m.
Only six out of the 101 female directors of FTSE companies earned more than £500,000, led by Pearsonís Marjorie Scardino who received £901,385.
The highest paid executive in 2003 was Tony Ball, former boss of BSkyB, whose package totalled £11.4m. Michael Green, then-chairman of TV company Carlton, was another big winner receiving £9.4m in cash and shares.
However these increases still mark a significant drop on the previous year, which saw a 23 per cent rise, and a fall on 2001, which saw a 17 per cent increase.
But suggestions that the that sustained pressure from institutional investors for firms to curb boardroom excess might be having some effect may still be premature.
Earlier this year, pay consultancy Independent Remuneration Solutions (IRS) found the total remuneration awarded to the bosses of the UK's largest companies climbed an average 22 per cent a year in the five years to 2003 - a total increase of almost 170 per cent.
IRS also calculated that the bosses of the UKís ten biggest companies saw their total remuneration packages rise by more than 12 times the rate of inflation in 2003 Ė a figure considerably higher than the one quoted by the Guardian.
The bulk of this rise took the form of an array of hard-to-trace benefits and performanceí incentives including bonuses, share options and pension contributions.