Three national directors forgo bonus payments

National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery and Tate chiefs sensitive to public sector pay freeze
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Rebecca Atkinson
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Research by a Conservative MP show that the heads of some publicly funded museums have waived their bonuses in light of the public sector pay freeze.

Priti Patel, MP for Witham, Essex, asked museums funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to reveal how much they had distributed in bonuses, allowances and other payments such as overtime in the past two years.

The figures show that the director of the National Gallery, Nicholas Penny, Tate director Nicholas Serota and director of the National Portrait Gallery, Sandy Nairne, did not receive bonus payments in 2010-11.

According to the research, Serota is entitled to a bonus up to 15% of his salary, but has waived this for the past two years. Penny has not received a bonus since 2008, while Nairne was awarded a bonus of £8,250 in 2009-10.

Elsewhere, the Imperial War Museum said it had not paid any performance-related bonuses since the implementation of the public sector pay freeze.

In 2009-10, the museum paid a total of £17,700 to 18 members of staff “related to exceptional performance during the previous year”.

Bonuses for directors can be as much as 20% of their salary and are usually based on performance. David Fleming, director of National Museums Liverpool, said he would like to scrap the bonus element of his pay but this is difficult because of “contractual restrictions”. Last year he was awarded a bonus payment, which he then donated to the museum.

The government launched a review of public sector bonuses last month. Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander has reportedly written to all government departments asking them to examine reward structures.

In 2009, top civil servants across government departments, including culture, agreed to forgo any bonuses to which they would be entitled in light of the economic situation.

Jonathan Stephens, the then permanent secretary at the DCMS, also wrote to national museum directors asking them to consider waiving bonus payments in recognition of their publicly funded status.



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