NATIONWIDE, which employs around 1,000 people locally, has defended the perks worth up to £217,000 which its boss receives on top of a £2.1million pay package.

Its chief executive, Joe Garner, enjoyed benefits such as a car, driver and private medical cover, worth up to £595 a day, in the last financial year.

His package includes a salary of £855,000, benefits of £217,000, pension contributions of £342,000 and ‘variable remuneraton’ of £903,000.

Luke Hildyard, executive director of the High Pay Centre, said: “It’s hypocritical for Nationwide to market themselves as a different kind of organisation and then lavish these kind of sums of money on its executives.”

A Nationwide statement said: “Nationwide aims to pay its top executives, including CEO, below the market average. Benefits do not give an accurate picture of total remuneration.

“Our executive pay is measured against tough criteria, including service, care, value and running a sustainable Society.”

It confirmed that benefits included private medical cover, a car allowance and the use of a company vehicle and driver for business purposes. It said the car and driver meant Mr Garner remained productive when travelling.

It said his total compensation was “broadly flat” at £2.317m compared with £2.315m last year. It said Nationwide aimed to pay below market for top executives and refused to pay for long-term incentives plans or fixed role-based allowances.