Total bonus payments in the period April 2015-March 2016 financial year were £44.3 billion, a record in cash terms, and 4.4% higher than in the previous year, according to the annual analysis of bonuses published today by the Office for National Statistics.

Commenting on the figures, ONS statistician Nick Palmer said “The total of over £44 billion of bonuses represents the first time that the figure has surpassed the previous record set in 2008, when it was £42.5 billion. Although the finance and insurance industry retains the largest share of the total, other industries, particularly among professional and high-tech business services, have been the biggest drivers of growth since 2008.”

The largest single contributor to this record level of bonus payments was the finance and insurance industry, at £13.9 billion, an increase of 2.2% over the year. Payments made in the rest of the economy increased at a faster rate, however – being up by 5.4% on 2014-15 to £30.4 billion. Looking at the average per employee, finance and insurance paid the highest average bonus, at £13,400, while health and social care paid the lowest average bonus, at close to zero. The average bonus per employee at whole economy level in the year to March 2016 has increased to around £1,600, an increase of 2.4% over the financial year.

Bonus payments in the private sector were £43.7 billion, while in the public sector they remained very small compared with those in the private sector.

Bonuses as a percentage of total pay were 6.0% for the whole economy, a small increase on the previous financial year. Annual bonuses as a percentage of total pay for the whole economy peaked in the financial year ending 2008, when they contributed 7.1% of total pay, which indicates that growth in bonuses has not kept up with growth in regular pay. Bonuses contributed just over one fifth of total pay in finance and insurance in the 2015-16 financial year, at 22.7%. This is down from 23.1% of total pay in the previous year and compares with a peak of 34.1% seen for the financial year ending 2007. In contrast, bonuses as a percentage of total pay for the rest of the economy have remained relatively stable since the series began in 2000, with an average of 4.0%. In 2015-16 bonuses contributed 4.5% of total pay, the highest since the series began. Bonuses contributed 7.3% of total pay in the private sector, compared with 0.5% in the public sector.

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