Carillion fat cats earning up to £55,000 a MONTH while company hurtled towards collapse with 20,000 jobs at risk

As Carillion hurtled towards ­collapse putting 20,000 jobs at risk, fatcat bosses ­continued to line their pockets while being handed public cash by their Tory cronies.

And once again the taxpayer is left to pick up the bill for another failed ­privatised firm in a bid to rescue the public services it had contracts with, such as schools, prisons and hospitals.

Blundering chief executive Richard Howson was paid £55,000 a month basic salary – even though he quit last July after the first of two dire profit warnings.

And it is believed the 49-year-old will carry on getting paid a £660,000 salary and £28,000 in benefits until October despite Carillion’s collapse.

Other former chiefs are also to pocket wages for months to come – as ordinary staff face being dumped with nothing.

There is fury over the fact executives at the construction giant, which was involved in the HS2 rail line, were paid so much, despite knowing they were in financial trouble as they were handed government contracts.

And there will be even more anger when staff who face the axe and a 20% cut in their pensions find out bosses protected their bonuses before Carillion went bust.

They changed the wording of its pay policy in 2016 to make it harder for ­investors to claw back any cash paid out if it ran into trouble.

A Unite union spokesman said: “This is a classic case of rewards for failure.

“The people at the top of Carillion were apparently lining their pockets while much of their workforce weren’t receiving meaningful pay increases and forced to live a hand to mouth existence.

“Taxpayers’ money appears to be siphoned off into private boardrooms.”

Even the Institute of Directors turned on the greedy bosses.

The group’s Roger Barker said: “Today’s outcome suggests effective ­governance was lacking at ­Carillion, and we must now consider if the board and ­shareholders have exercised appropriate oversight prior to the collapse.

“There are some worrying signs. The relaxation of clawback conditions for executive bonuses in 2016 appears in retrospect to be highly inappropriate.

“It does no good to the reputation of UK business when top managers appear to benefit in spite of the collapse of the organisations that they are responsible for.

“It may be necessary for government to consider how it can better monitor the robustness of governance at contractors.”

Howson, who lives in a £1.2million farmhouse near Skipton, North Yorks, raked in more than £6million in pay and perks during his five years at the firm.

That included nearly £600,000 in bonuses in 2016, part of a £1.5million package that year.

Carillion accounts reveal Howson was getting a generous pension worth up to 40% of his salary.

Former finance director Richard Adam, who retired at the end of 2016, earned £6.6million in pay, bonuses and pension rewards since 2009.

Chairman Philip Green has collected more than £500,000 since taking over in 2014.

Former finance chief Zafar Khan, who left Carillion in September, will receive £425,000 in base salary for 12 months.

Interim chief executive Keith Cochrane is to be paid his £750,000 salary until July, despite leaving in February.

It was not just bosses who were quids in, despite the firm’s looming problems It dished out £400million in dividends to ­shareholders between 2012 and 2016.

The windfall for investors was double what ­Carillion put into its pension scheme over the same period to chip away at its yawning black hole.

The deficit soared from nearly £400milion in 2015 to almost £590million when it collapsed.

The Pension Protection Fund is likely to take over responsibility for the 28,000 members in various schemes.

The full cost to the PPF is expected to be more like £800millon, eating into its surplus.

Staff who have already retired would get smaller annual increases in their pensions. But the pension pots of others will be cut.

Carillion bosses face an investigation by the Official Receiver into their role in its collapse – warning they could face “severe penalties” if wrongdoing is found.

Theresa May’s official spokesman said, initially, the Government will be paying staff to ensure public services continue to run as normal. He added there would be some additional burden on the taxpayer.

But Cabinet Office minister David Lidington said shareholders will be wiped out and lenders including HSBC, Barclays, Santander and Royal Bank of Scotland are reportedly set to lose an estimated £2billion as a result of the collapse.

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