City pay and bonuses are rising back up to their pre-recession levels, despite widespread public criticism of the levels of payments made.
Analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics, conducted by the Guardian, revealed bankers were paid £8.5bn in bonuses in the four months to April, compared with £7bn during the same period last year.
Pay also increased across the sector by £1bn to £12bn, as bankers moved some of their earnings away from bonuses to avoid the former government’s bonus tax.
The pay and bonus increases took the combined earnings for the bonus season to £20.5bn, compared with £24bn at the height of the boom in 2007.
The rise in earnings is likely to put pressure on the coalition government to impose a clampdown on City pay practices.
Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oakeshott said of the new data: “This is the unacceptable face of capitalism. The coalition agreement promised to bring forward proposals for robust action to tackle these practices.”
A spokesman for the British Bankers Association said the bulk of workers in the industry received one small bonus or no bonus at all. He said. “The financial services sector makes a huge contribution to the UK economy, and to keep that world-leading position you have to employ the best people – and that means paying a competitive remuneration package.”
City recruitment consultants said appointments had gained speed in recent months as investment banks poach staff from their rivals.