Thomas Bridge 11 March 2014

Public sector pay sees biggest shrink on 2010, figures suggest

Public sector staff have seen the largest pay squeeze since 2010, the wage gap having narrowed between their private sector counterparts.

While average public sector pay is now between 2.2% and 3.1% higher than the private sector once job and worker characteristics are accounted for, figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest this gap has shrunk since the Coalition Government came to power.

Reports suggest the ‘downward trend’ in public sector pay is likely a reflection of earnings freezes established in 2010.

The public sector generally consists of large organisations – which traditionally tend to earn more than small organisations – while the private sector consists of a more even split of sizes.

However, private sector workers in London currently earn on average 8% more than their public counterparts.

Among the lowest 5% of earners in each sector, figures show public sector workers earned 20% more than private sector staff. Conversely, when looking at the top 5% of earners, public sector workers earned 24% less than their private counterparts.

Responding to the figures, Trades Union Congress general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: ‘Years of freezes, real terms pay cuts and rounds of redundancies have left public servants facing a sharp squeeze in their living standards.

‘Not only do public sector workers earn less than equivalent staff in the private sector, they also face greater job insecurity as hundreds of thousands of posts are set to go in the coming years.’

General Secretary of Unison, Dave Prentis, said: ‘The pay freeze and squeeze has hit public service workers hard, leaving many struggling to get by. The pay cap, coupled with inflation means that for many workers the value of their pay has fallen by 16% since 2010 – a massive pay cut.’

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