Public sector employees are paid 7.5 per cent more than workers in the private sector, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) which worked out the figures after removing variable factors such as age, qualifications and education.

The think tank also said that public sector pensions are much bigger than private sector pensions and are still on the increase.

The gap in pay is said to have come about after the recession when private sector wages were affected. It’s not something that staff will want to hear but it just happens to coincide closely with the 7 per cent real terms reduction that public sector salaries are likely to experience through the forthcoming two-year pay freeze.

The overall public sector wages bill was £168bn in 2009, compared with £111bn in 1998, the IFS said.