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Pay gap between private and public sector widens

The average pay gap between private and public sector workers has widened by 47% in the last three years, latest figures have shown.

New data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that public sector employees were on average paid 7.8% more than those in the private sector in April 2010. In 2007 the pay gap was 5.3%.

With many less skilled jobs now being outsourced to the private sector, the average wage amongst public sector workers has risen significantly in recent years.

Only workers on the very highest wages enjoy a bigger salary in the private sector. The top 5% of highest earners in the public sector are paid £31.28 an hour compared with £32.40 an hour in the private sector.

However the study, which is drawn from two pieces of research by the ONS, does not take into account factors such as pension contributions, company cars and health insurance.

Commenting on the findings, David Frost, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: 'The private sector of every hour of every day is out there competing for business across the globe. As much as they'd like to pay their workers more, they can't. The market doesn't make it possible.

'The Government has got to get a grip. It is supposed to have implemented a pay freeze on the public sector, but these figures show that the discrepancy is growing not just in the terms and conditions, but also that the gap between the pay of the wealth-creating private sector and the public sector is widening.'