When more means less

2007

More British workers than ever are getting a financial pat on the back from their bosses, but unlike the spiralling bonuses lavished on top executives, the value of bonuses for most employees has halved over the past year.

Research by financial services provider Birmingham Midshires has found that British workers were paid bonuses of more than £24 billion last year, with growth fuelled in part by booming pay-outs in the City.

The poll of 2,000 workers reported that 29 per cent had received a financial pat on the back, more than double the number last year.

But at the same time the amount they walked away had fallen sharply, averaging around £1,758, compared with £3,858 last year.

There was also a sharp gender split, with a third of working men banking a bonus over the past 12 months compared with just under a quarter of women.

Women were hard done by when it came to the size of the bonus, too.

While the average male bonus was £2,130, for women it was a more measly £1,213, suggested Birmingham Midshires.

The disparity was likely to be compounded by the higher proportion of women in part-time work than men, it argued.

Perhaps surprisingly, a sizeable minority resisted the temptation to fritter away their new-found wealth, the survey also found.

Almost four out of 10 saved all or part of their bonus last year, with a tenth putting it towards property.

A total of 12 per cent decided the money was a reward for a year's hard work and spent it on a holiday, the survey said.

Londoners were most likely to receive a bonus, with a third of employees in the capital receiving extra cash, said Birmingham Midshires.

Londoners also received the highest average bonuses, at £2,770, boosted by the City pay-outs.

Jason Robinson, director of savings operations for Birmingham Midshires, said: "We all know that it can be extremely tempting to spend a large one-off payment but the research found that over a third of people are squirreling away their bonus and we think this is a good start."

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