The decision for Barclays to award its boss a remarkably high bonus this year has been called into question by a leading union.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis highlighted the issue of Bob Diamond being awarded a £6.5 million bonus, explaining that this happens at a time when public sector workers are facing cuts to pensions, employee benefits and job losses, hitting families hard.

He continued: “Bob Diamond’s £6.5million bonus could pay for more than 200 trained social workers or nurses for a year. The time for remorse is far from over – we want to see the bankers accepting that they must contribute to paying off the debt they caused.”

Mr Prentis argued that by taxing just half of banker bonuses for a year could keep SureStart centres open and cover complete costs of the Education Maintenance Allowance – otherwise known as EMA – for five years.

This bonus culture, he argued, should always be a target before cuts to the public sector. “There is an alternative,” he added.