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Our Gary hits back at big earners

Our Gary hits back at big earners

Our friend Gary Lineker has been in the news again this week, not because he will be presenting Match of the Day in the buff if Leicester do the biz, but because he has taken a swipe at “manipulative” lawyers who fuel acrimony between divorcing couples by letting proceedings drag on.”

Having split with his second wife, model Danielle Bux in January, the Match of the Day presenter and ex-England striker, 55, has accused lawyers of stoking up disagreements to increase their profits. He said, “We know that lawyers try to manipulate it to make you spend more money and basically end up hating each other.”

Anyone who has divorced, or even bought or sold a house or a business will probably agree with Lineker. The fees involved are astronomical at times, money for old rope in fact. If you’re a SME that’s likely to really stick in your craw given how hard you have to work to turn a profit. So that got me wondering, what kind of jobs pay the most cash for the least effort? Can you swap your SME and earn money for old rope?


It’s amazing how much a CEO can make. A good CEO will help an organization meet its goals, improve profits, and keep shareholders happy, but there are plenty of bad CEO’s earning as much money as the good ones, and then when they are fired, they get a golden handshake too.
The charity sector is awash with extremely highly paid CEOs, even though at grassroots level, staffing is undertaken by unpaid volunteers, and the general public offer goods for resale in charity shops, and their loose change in good faith. Here’s some top figures for you:

Marie Stopes International £260K-£270K
Save the Children International £257K-£267K
Cancer Research UK £220K-£230K
British Red Cross Society £200K-£210K

Don’t worry, it’s all for a good cause, folks.

The private sector is just as bad. Remember Sir Peter Bonfield? He walked away from BT with a payoff worth £3 million, having presided over a share price slide of 71.4%. Or Ian Harley of Abbey who picked up £1.7 million after dropping a £1 billion loss on his investors. Sir Philip Watts of Shell scored a 55% increase in basic pay, even though company profits fell by a quarter.

Phil Green's new yacht financed by other people's pensions

Phil Green’s new yacht financed by other people’s pensions

Last week Sir Philip Green came under fire. He bought BHS in May 2000 for £200m. He sold it for £1 to a little known group of investors, and it has collapsed just 12 months later. Green’s family have been huge winners having received more than £580m in dividends, rental payments and interest on loans which have funded their lavish lifestyle. Unfortunately, that money should have been ring fenced for BHS workers’ pensions, now it looks like the tax payer will have to fork out to (rightly) protect those. Seriously? Why should we finance Green’s way of life? As I type, Green is awaiting delivery of his latest toy: a £100m superyacht named Lionheart to join the other two yachts he already has, as well as a speedboat, helicopter and Gulfstream jet. He and his wife enjoy a personal fortune of around £3.2 BILLION. The ex-workers of BHS will be lucky to pay their gas bills. Now that really is money for old rope.

Hotel manager

According to payscale.com the average salary for a General Manager in a Hotel is £35,707 per year. You need skills in Customer Service obviously, but what SME owner doesn’t have those? You don’t need to be a graduate or even be particularly bright. A lack of squeamishness may be a bonus, and the ability to deal with stag parties and the occasional deceased celebrity.


According to Prospects.ac.uk, salaries for more experienced pilots could range from £36,000 to £48,000 in a first officer role. The starting salary for a captain with a medium-sized airline may range from £57,000 to £78,000, while those with the major operators could earn from £97,000 to more than £140,000.

Pilots need to be highly skilled, with excellent sight and hearing. They are trained to deal with both everyday events and emergencies but, these days many tasks are automated. Add to this that with the cockpit now locked, pilots don’t often have to deal with the public on a regular basis, and they get to travel. OK, they may only travel between Luton and Glasgow but it gets them out of the house.

City jobs

Don a pin stripe suit or a pencil skirt and killer heels and join the city boys (mainly) and girls. By all accounts there are long commutes and long hours, in jobs that are at once stressful and boring, and pretty uncreative. The thing is, elsewhere in the country other people shuffle bits of paper around for a lot less pay. It’s inequitable. The best paid full time workers are all in the City of London, and average earnings are £921 a week, or two and half times more than the lowest average UK wage of £389 pw in Derbyshire.

Estate Agents

The worst case of money for old rope has to be estate agents. What do they actually do? They measure your house, take a few photos and bung them on Zoopla or Right Move. They write up really bad, misspelled copy and create a pretty little brochure. Sometimes they show you around, sometimes they get the owner to show you around. They make a few phone calls. They rarely actually negotiate – if you’re buying you have to keep coming back to them with increasingly higher offers. Then they take a HUGE fee for making a few phone calls and sucking their teeth. Totally ridiculous.

Money for old rope for sure!

Money for old rope for sure!

Staff at Savills have a bonus pool worth £40 million. And top earners at the firm are likely to pocket bonuses worth close to a million pounds this year. Most estate agency works on a percentage of the price of the property sold, typically 2%. Two per cent of £250,000 is very nice at £5,000, but 2% of £1,500,000 is £30,000. I have a friend who sold her house in Nottingham recently for £60,000 – the Estate Agent robbed her of £2000 for doing nothing.


I’ve just witnessed a firm of builders take 12 months to gut a building and put it back together again. They spent most of the summer sat outside have a fag and a cup of tea. The thing is, because Britain has a chronic shortage of plumbers and because there is such heavy demand, many tradesmen are on salaries that professionals would sell their souls for. £52,000 a year is not unusual for brickies, and electricians and plumbers may command even more in prosperous areas. Extortionate call out fees are the norm – £200 call-out fees and £100 per hour rates.

After dinner speakers

Did you know that top after dinner speakers can charge around £20,000 an hour? Former US President Bill Clinton can ask for $100,000-plus per speech, John Major charges $46,000, David Frost £25,000 and Carol Vorderman £20,000. Kevin Keegan or Sir Steve Redgrave can earn between £10,000 and £15,000 for a similar bash.

Carol's fee includes her new frock and accessories of course

Carol’s fee includes her new frock and accessories of course

Commercial barristers and QCs

Gordon Pollock, QC, will earn the highest legal fee in history – £5 million – for presenting the case against the Bank of England brought by BCCI creditors. Baron Grabiner, who represented people such as Rupert Murdoch earns more than £2 million a year, charging an amazing £1,000 an hour for his services.

Lawyers in family, criminal and common law usually earned between £125,000 and £400,000 a year (and salaries haven’t risen much at all in recent years). Corporate and tax specialists however can earn more than £1 million a year.

Is it jealously on our part? Maybe. The Office for National Statistics has published its annual data on wages, and revealed that while UK employees are on average better off this year than at any time since the financial crisis – they still earn less than they did in 2003. That’s going to have a trickle-down effect on SMEs.

And being self-employed?

Many self-employed people are among the worst off in the UK. There has been an increase in the number of small businesses springing up thanks largely to welfare and benefit cuts, but in many ways the very small SMEs are the most disadvantaged. Not eligible for tax credits, or employee benefits, or prescription rebates, with no help for pensions, no sick pay or paid leave, it’s a tough world out there. But you know, any of us could be the next Charles Dunstone, Richard Branson or James Dyson, right? We just have to work hard and hope, eh?

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