Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (UK)
The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (Ashe), conducted every year by the Office for National Statistics, uses data taken from a sample of 1% of company employees who pay tax via PAYE. Because of that, it’s widely considered to be the most accurate assessment of what most people in the country earn – but equally there are several important pay factors that Ashe cannot show.
Firstly, the data only applies to employees on company payrolls, so cannot reflect the earnings of the self-employed entrepreneurs, athletes and celebrities who between them constitute many of the country’s really top earners.
Second, the survey only measures base pay and does not take into account additional methods of reward such as bonuses, pension payments, share options and so on. Thirdly, it cannot reveal the earnings of those with multiple income streams, such as legal and accounting partners, or directors of multiple companies. This may explain why Ashe figures for directors and financial workers, although top ranked, look surprisingly low.