London (AFP) - The heads of Britain's largest companies earned 131 times as much as their average employee last year, a study said Monday, exposing the growing pay gap between bosses and workers.
The wage divide has more than doubled since 1998, when the average chief executive of firms in the FTSE 100 earnt 47 times as much as staff, the report found.
The British government has brought in laws to curb executive pay and bonuses since the financial crisis, but a severe squeeze on wage growth has fuelled public anger about highly-paid senior executives.
"When bosses make hundreds of times as much money as the rest of the workforce, it creates a deep sense of unfairness," said Deborah Hargreaves, director of the High Pay Centre think-tank, which wrote the report.
Martin Sorrell, which heads up marketing giant WPP, took home a pay package nearly 800 times bigger than his employees of £29.8 million ($49.6 million, 31.2 million euros), the study found.
At retailer Next, boss Simon Wolfson earned almost 460 times as much as his average worker in 2013 -- but then chose to distribute his bonus to staff.
The chief of mining group Randgold Resources, Mark Bristow, was paid £4.4 million last year -- 231 as much as his average employee.
The study comes after the Bank of England last week halved its pay growth forecast for this year to below the rate of inflation at 1.25 percent.
Governor Mark Carney said the figures reflected "relatively unprecedented weak wage growth" in Britain.
The gloomy forecast came after official data showed that annual pay fell by 0.2 percent in the second quarter of the year -- the first decline since the height of the financial crisis in 2009.
The squeeze on people's spending power comes even as Britain's growth picked up pace, with the economy now bigger than before the start of the global financial meltdown in 2008.
"The government needs to take more radical action on top pay to deliver a fair economy that ordinary people can have faith in," said Hargreaves.
The think-tank carried out the study using pay figures from company reports and data from the Pensions Investment Research Consultants.