New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that bonuses paid to UK workers have risen to almost the same levels as 2007/08, before the global financial crisis.
During the year 2014/15, the total of all bonus payments in the UK was £42.4bn, a rise of 2.7% on the previous year and in cash terms just 0.1% below the record level reached in 2007/08.
Bonuses in the financial and insurance sector were actually down by £1.5bn on the previous year and still below their pre-downturn levels. But in the rest of the economy bonuses were significantly higher, up 9.7% to £28.8bn, which is £5bn higher than their pre-crisis peak.
According to the ONS, the professional, scientific and technical services industry had the largest increase in bonuses in 2014/15, up £0.9bn on the previous year. Next was the information and communication sector, which saw an increase of £0.5bn.
However, the £1.5bn fall in bonuses in the finance and insurance sector may be partly explained by the timing of bonus payments, because, as the ONS has said: ‘this industry is more prone than others to concentrate their payments into a December-to-March ‘bonus season’, and in 2013, a number of bonus payments were deferred from March into April.
‘Thus the 2013/14 figure in this sector might have been atypically high, with some employees receiving payments both in April 2013 and March 2014, twice within the same reporting period’.