Myth 6: Housing chief executives are hypocritical fat cats

Busted? The highest-paid chief executive of Britain’s biggest housing association, David Cowans, of Places for People, earns £432,928. Sounds like a lot. The Daily Mail fumed at the salaries, accusing the ‘fat cats’ of ‘hypocrisy’ for opposing an extension of the Right to Buy to housing associations.

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It is an accusation that is often levelled at housing bosses, and housing minister Grant Shapps also took up this cause in 2010. But chief executives argue that their salaries are on par or far lower than organisations of the same size in the private sector, So let’s settle this. In 2013-14, Places for People had a turnover of £485m. What do chief executives of similar-sized organisations in the private sector receive?

Travelodge provides accommodation of a slightly different kind and in 2014, turned over £497.2m. Its highest-paid director is paid £700,000. Arsenal football club turns over nearly £200m less than PfP, with the figure reaching £302m in 2014. Nevertheless, its chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, is paid £1.39m, plus a bonus of £692,000.

People are free to think what they like about social landlords’ salaries, but it could be that the argument is slightly more nuanced than the Daily Mail’s angry front page.

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