By Marcus Leach

For the first time since records began in the 1960s public sector pay settlements were running at zero for the opening quarter of 2011.

In the private sector the median pay settlement rose from 2.5% to 3%, according to figures released by research group Incomes Data Services (IDS).

Last year the government froze the public sector pay as they tried to reduce the UK's deficit, although the move was not welcomed by TUC, who claimed the government was trying to make public sector workers 'scapegoats'.

"Our pay settlement figures show overall stability, with some evidence of modest upward pressures coming through from the initial data on April awards," Ken Mulkearn, Editor of IDS Pay Report said.

"The various pressures on pay are finely balanced, with higher inflation being offset to some extent by employers’ concerns about the economic recovery and the impact of public sector job cuts on the labour market. It may also be that companies’ retention of profits is acting as a brake on pay growth.

"This could be of concern to policy-makers, at least in so far as consumer spending — which appeared to weaken recently — relies on higher wages. Next month’s data, for the three months to April, will be important in this respect."