By Max Clarke

Headlines across the media last month loudly proclaimed the findings of IDS Pay’s report into public and private sector remuneration: that public sector workers were 40% better off than those in the private.

Commentators from a number of platforms reacted angrily to the news’ some claiming the figures were misleading and that pitting private and public sector workers against each other distracted from more important economic issues- a position that has again been expressed by unions today.

Others, notably the Taxpayers’ Alliance’s Matthew Sinclair, voiced his anger over the ‘unsustainable’ practice of paying the public sector more than the private to work fewer hours in more secure jobs.

This morning, IDS pay published Public and private sector earnings: fact and fiction in an attempt to unearth the underlying patterns behind the headline figures.

Median hourly and annual pay were, the report found, higher in the public sector, though mean gross pay was higher in private owing largely to the skewing effect of highly paid financiers.

One factor accounting to the lower pay of the private sector, is the growing tend of outsourcing. By contracting lowly paid jobs including cleaners and cafeteria staff to the private sector, the private sector average is depressed at the same time as the public sector average is raised.

However, note IDS, the nationalisation of failing banks moved some 200,000 finance workers- many of them on 6 figure salaries, from the private to the public sector overnight, countering the effects of outsourcing.

General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, Brendan Barber, has again reacted angrily to what they deem a divisive report that fails to address the ongoing practice of under pay for millions across both sectors.

Said Barber:
“Simplistic attempts to compare private and public sector pay levels are misleading, taking no account of the different skills, gender or jobs profiles between sectors.”

“While the analysis shows that public sector pay is spread far more fairly than in the private sector, the very lowest paid public sector workers - who undertake important work cleaning our hospitals and providing our children with school meals - receive only slightly more than the minimum wage.”

“With public and private sector workers facing an unprecedented squeeze on living standards there is no point setting one sector against another - the focus needs to be securing a strong recovery to guarantee the future prosperity of households across the country.”

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