Average chief executive pay at UK-listed companies increased by a third last year and has quadrupled over the last 12 years, despite flat share prices, according to research from proxy agency Manifest.

The agency said company remuneration committees were struggling to maintain their independence from their chief executives and were adopting increasingly expensive, short-term reward strategies.

“The typical chief executive enjoys rewards for even the most basic levels of performance regardless of whether they attain an ‘exceptional' outcome for the company,” the agency said.

It called on remuneration committees to do a better job of benchmarking executive performance, become more transparent and provide tougher scrutiny of rewards and targets.

Manifest's Executive Director Total Remuneration Survey 2011 is based on an analysis of remuneration reports at listed UK companies. The agency said it found little link between remuneration, performance and shareholder value.