Housing minister demands to know why bosses are earning more than the prime minister

Housing minister Grant Shapps has hit out at housing association chief executives for taking excessive salaries, after a survey revealed they earned more, on average, than the prime minister.

Shapps told the National Housing Federation annual conference it was time for associations, which are private bodies but receive public subsidy to build homes, to open up their books to greater public scrutiny. An annual survey by Inside Housing, published yesterday, revealed that housing association chief executives earn on average £153,000 - £11,000 more than the prime minister David Cameron.

Shapps said: “If you receive the public’s money it is time to open up your books, so that the public can see how their cash is being spent. Not just once a year in a stuffy and unread annual report, but in real-time.

“And yes, they want to know how many people think that their job is tougher than being Prime Minister.

“And I want to know how it can be justified to pay enormous salaries which are ultimately being paid for either through the hard work and toil of taxpayers… or worse, from the rents of tenants who maybe the people in society least able to afford your salary.”

The chair of the National Housing Federation, which represents associations, hit back immediately. Former Liberal MP Matthew Taylor said Shapps should be more concerned with getting homes built than the salaries of “a few” chief executives. He said: “The truth is, there is not a single chief executive of a housing association who could not earn more in the commercial sector, a commercial sector charging rents and prices unaffordable to our tenants – and unaffordable to the housing benefit bill. And some of our CEOs run amongst the largest enterprises in the UK.

“We have published chief exec salaries for fifteen years, not four months. Unlike the PM, Housing Association chief execs don’t get a grace and favour home in central London, or a ministerial car to whisk them to their grace and favour weekend retreat.”