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Fat cats and extortionate bonuses

PR gaff for new home builders

There is an amazing TV clip doing the rounds this week which is well worth seeking out and likely to provoke a wry grin, together with an element of disgust. It shows a BBC reporter asking Jeff Fairburn, the Chief Executive of the housebuilder Persimmon, a perfectly reasonable question about his £75 million bonus and Fairburn NOT answering it in about the most maladroit manner possible.

His crass ducking of the question means he’s going to be quizzed about this Quadruple Rollover Euro Millions Jackpot style pay packet by every journalist worth their salt at every opportunity until kingdom come. That he and his PR team didn’t realise he’d have to field such a question and didn’t prepare a pat answer is astonishing. To adopt a rictus grin, start nodding like a demented automaton, look pleadingly at his PR assistant and scurry out of shot muttering about it all being very unfortunate, displayed beyond doubt his awareness that he has been grossly over rewarded and wanted to avoid answering for it.

The sad fact is, most of this bonus has been funded by the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, aimed to get first time buyers on the ladder. By all accounts this tax payer’s money being fed into the system has enabled the likes of Persimmon to charge more for their houses with much of the effort (and cash) from the exercise, wasted. Something is very wrong with the system and all the while first time buyers are finding it still harder to buy a home.

By Chris Willey
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