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Here's How Long It Takes Different People To Earn The UK Average Salary

"Fat Cat Wednesday", on 4 January, marks when top CEOs have earned what the average worker does in a year. Here's how long it takes some other people.

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3:40am, 1 January 2017: Sir Martin Sorrell.

Justin Tallis / AFP / Getty Images

We won't know the actual detail of WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell's salary for this year until the company updates shareholders later in 2017 – but last year he stirred controversy and sparked a shareholder revolt after taking home a pay and shares package worth more than £70 million.

Earning at this rate would mean Sorrell would have exceeded the £28,000 median salary for a full-time UK worker before 4am on 1 January.

3:45am, 1 January 2017: Adele.

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Based on Forbes' most recent estimate of her earnings, Adele – the world's second-highest earning female musician – would hit the UK's average salary just minutes after Sir Martin Sorrell, in the early hours of New Year's Day.

5pm, 1 January 2017: Paul Pogba.

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Paul Pogba is paid a reported £290,000 a week, meaning he earned the UK's average full-time salary by 5pm on New Year's Day – and this isn't counting any payment he receives from sponsorships or other outside income.

Noon, 4 January 2017: FTSE 100 CEOs.

Justin Tallis / AFP / Getty Images

According to the High Pay Centre, today – dubbed "Fat Cat Wednesday" – is when the average FTSE 100 CEO has earned as much pay as a typical full-time worker makes in a year.

“Our new year calculation is not designed to make the return to work harder than it already is. But ‘Fat Cat Wednesday’ is an important reminder of the continuing problem of the unfair pay gap in the UK,” said Stefan Stern, the centre's head.

“We hope the government will recognise that further reform to pay practices are needed if this gap is to be closed.”


7 February 2017: the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Ben A. Pruchnie / Getty Images

Bernard Hogan-Howe, the commissioner of the Met, is stepping down this year. The role to replace him is being advertised with a salary of over £270,000 plus benefits. Counting just this basic salary – and not pension and other benefits – this means the commissioner will out-earn the typical UK worker by early February.

13 March 2017: Theresa May.

Ben Stansall / AFP / Getty Images

Prime minister Theresa May kept her salary at the same level as her predecessor's when she took office in the summer of 2016, meaning she earns just over £143,000 a year – matching a typical worker by the middle of March.

16 March 2017: Jeremy Corbyn.

Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Like his predecessors, Jeremy Corbyn gets a supplement on top of his MP's salary for acting as leader of the opposition, which takes his total salary very close to that of the prime minister – he earns just over £138,000 a year.

This means Corbyn's earnings reach that of the typical worker just three days after the PM's do, on 16 March.

25 April 2017: NHS consultants

Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Based on the midpoint of salaries for consultants in the NHS – senior doctors with several years' experience after training – this is when a typical doctor's NHS salary would exceed average full-time earnings, though this doesn't include any extra income from private practice.


6 December 2017: UK men.

Rob Stothard / Getty Images

According to the official earnings statistics produced by the ONS, the median full-time salary for men in the UK is just over £30,000, meaning men will have earned the average wage by 6 December – but do note this is a smaller effect than most measures of the pay gap, as the average wage for all workers does (of course) include men.

May 2024: a jobseeker's allowance claimant.

Matt Cardy / Getty Images

Based on a payment of £73.10 per week – which is given to jobseekers over 25 – it would take a JSA claimant more than seven and a half years to get the same amount of income as the average full-time UK worker, though this measure excludes other benefits to which they may be entitled (such as housing support).

James Ball is a special correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London. PGP: here

Contact James Ball at

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