Public sector workers 7% ahead of their private sector peers

The pay gap across the public and private sectors has more than doubled to 7% since the start of the recession, figures have revealed.

Data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown that average annual earnings of public sector workers rose to £22,405 last year – compared with £20,988 paid to the average private sector worker. This equates to a 7% pay gap, more than double the 3% gap recorded the year before, an investigation by the Sunday Times found.

The analysis was validated by Straight Statistics, a group that campaigns for the accurate reporting of official data. Nigel Hawkes, Straight Statistics director, said: “However you look at it, public sector workers have done better than most in the private sector over the past decade – and the gap is widening.”

David Frost, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Right across the spectrum of pay and conditions the public sector is now outstripping the private sector.”

The latest unemployment figures, out last year, found that average earnings continued to show a divide across the public and private sectors. Public sector workers were offered a 2.7% pay rise excluding bonuses, down 0.1 percentage points, while private sector workers got a 1.4% rise, excluding bonuses, unchanged from the previous quarter.

A spokesman for the Treasury said: “In the pre-budget report the government announced it would seek to cap basic pay uplifts at 1% across the public sector in 2011-12 and 2012-13. This will save £3.4bn by April 2013.”

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