Barclays cut the amount it set aside for bonuses by 23 per cent in the first half of the year as chief executive Jes Staley exerts a tighter grip on pay in a push to hit the bank’s profitability target.

The UK-based bank put £456m towards bonuses in the first six months of 2019 versus £593m in the same period last year, according to figures in its half-year results statement, reflecting a tougher approach to pay for its investment bankers.

It was the lowest amount allocated to the bonus pool in a first half since 2016, when Mr Staley started rebuilding the investment bank following a push by his predecessor to scale back the unit.

Bankers receive variable pay awards at the end of the year, but banks take a charge each quarter to reflect the rate at which bonuses accrue. The steep cut in first-half accrual suggests Barclays employees could receive a lower annual bonus than they did last year.

Although Barclays does not break it out, most of the bonus pool is used to fund year-end awards for highly paid staff at its investment bank in London and New York, as opposed to those working in its UK retail lender or international payments unit.

Revenues at the corporate and investment bank were virtually flat in the first half compared to the same period of 2018 at £5.3bn, suggesting that the bonus cuts go beyond the kind of reductions that are typically imposed to reflect poor performance.

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