The chief executive of housebuilder Persimmon has defended his £110 million bonus, saying that it came as a result of “a scheme that was launched at a time where the business was looking to move forward, there were stretching targets”.

Jeff Fairburn has come under pressure to give some of the bonus to charities.

Critics have attacked the bonus, which soared on the back of the builder’s decision to not set a cap on the scheme.

There has also been criticism that the company’s profits have effectively been boosted by the government’s Help to Buy scheme, which supports first-time buyers on to the housing ladder.

In December, Persimmon chairman Nicholas Wrigley and Jonathan Davie, chair of the remuneration committee resigned after failing to cap an incentive plan which was introduced in 2012.

The payout, which could see £600m shared among the management team, comes in the form of share options, 40 per cent of which can be sold now.

Mike Killoran, finance chief, picked up £86m and Dave Jenkinson, group managing director, £48m.

“Nobody has yet exercised any of those share options. From my own perspective, I have not made a decision and I’ll continue to review that,” Mr Fairburn told Reuters.

Mr Fairburn was speaking as Persimmon updated the market on its trading performance. It said it expects profits for the year to be “modestly ahead of market consensus”.

Revenues at the group rose nine per cent to £3.42 billion in 2017. Persimmon handed over the keys on 16,043 new homes last year, up 872 on the previous year. The average selling price was up three per cent to £213,300.

The company said it continued to experience healthy customer demand for new homes through the autumn sales season. The value of forward sales at 31 December 2017 of about £1.4bn was 10 per cent ahead of the previous year.