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Ofcom head Sharon White pocketed nearly £500k last year

A pittance compared to the near-£1m she is due to take home at John Lewis

Outgoing Ofcom chief exec Sharon White pocketed £459,623 last year heading up the comms regulator, according to its annual accounts (PDF).

White's total remuneration package during 2018/19 included her £340,025 salary and £34,000 annual performance bonus, £68,005 in pension contributions, £15,000 in flexible benefits and a further £2,593 in benefits in kind.

That was slightly higher than the £451,848 she took home in 2017/18. In contrast, the median remuneration for Ofcom's workforce was £57,548.

When White leaves the regulator next year to become chairman of upmarket department store John Lewis, her base salary alone will near £1m. She joined the regulator in March 2015 from the Treasury, where she was a senior civil servant in charge of public finances.

During her tenure, White oversaw the regulator's strategic review of digital communications, which stopped short of recommending Openreach be fully separated from BT, and gave the green light to BT's acquisition of EE.

The regulator's annual accounts also revealed the comms regulator Ofcom swung into the red to the tune of £230m for fiscal 2018/19 after it was forced to cough up £220m to mobile network operators.

In May, Vodafone, O2, Three and EE won a case against Ofcom in the High Court, where it was found that the regulator's decision to quadruple its Annual Licence Fees for spectrum between 2015 and 2017 was illegal. It has appealed the ruling.

On top of the payout, Ofcom will splash a further £12m in interest and legal fees, according to its annual accounts for 2018/19 (PDF).

Last year, the regulator received £124.2m through industry fees for regulating broadcasting and communications networks, and grant-in-aid from the government.

The government has agreed to cover the £232m in rebates and legal costs, said Ofcom. ®

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