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Former Persimmon boss fails to set up charity after promising to

This news post is 10 months old
 

Huge furore over massive bonus payment

A businessman who pledged to create a charity on the back of a controversial £82 million bonus payment has failed to do so, three years on.

Jeff Fairburn, former chief executive of housebuilder Persimmon, pledged to start the charity in an attempt to quell outrage over the huge payment.

However enquiries show that Fairburn has not registered a charity with the Charity Commission or made any inquiries about how to set one up, despite promising on 14 February 2018 he would do so and donate a “substantial proportion” of the bonus to a charitable trust.

Negative publicity over the payout led to Fairburn losing his job later that year after the company said it was having a negative impact on the reputation of the business.

The controversial bonus payment was linked to the housebuilder's performance on the back of the government’s help-to-buy programme.

A Charity Commission spokeswoman said: “We have no record of a registered charity bearing Jeff Fairburn’s name. Nor does it appear Mr Fairburn is a current trustee of an active charity. We can’t categorically state that no charity has been registered that involves Mr Fairburn in some capacity. It would also not be possible for us to confirm whether or not any funds have been donated via another charity.”

Luke Hildyard, the executive director of the High Pay Centre thinktank, said: “When this obviously excessive and unearned payment was first made, the promise that a substantial portion would be used to set up a charity enabled Persimmon to draw a line under the affair. So there is a moral onus on Fairburn to provide some transparency over the matter.

“Charitable giving by the super-rich is claimed to be an example of the so-called ‘trickle-down’ effect but as this case suggests, philanthropy can be highly whimsical, opaque and unaccountable. The benefits it provides for wider society are minimal compared to proper taxation of extreme wealth.”

 

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