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Total bonus payments at same levels as last year but finance sector sees significant drop, according to ONS

Across the whole economy, bonus payments during the financial year April 2010 to March 2011 totalled £35 billion, the same as the previous financial year, according to the Office of National Statistics.

The total amount of bonuses paid in financial and insurance activities in 2010-11 stood at £14 billion. This is identical to the previous year's figure and higher than the 2008-09 figure of £12 billion.

Financial sector bonus payments however remain significantly below the levels seen during the peak years of 2006-07 and 2007-08, when the bonuses paid totalled £19 billion and accounted for more than 45% of all bonus payments. Bonus payments are now 58% higher than in 2000-01.

Bonus payments in the rest of the economy totalled £21 billion in 2010-11.

Compared to finance and insurance, bonus payments across the rest of the economy have been less volatile, with a much smaller drop since their 2007-08 peak (£23 billion). The long-term trend in bonus payments has been one of more gradual growth than in the financial sector, with bonus payments now 50 per cent higher than 2000-01.

The public sector (excluding financial services) accounts for 22% of employment in Great Britain. Yet the public sector's share of the total bonus payments is just 1.5%. If financial services - which includes the temporarily nationalised banks - are added, the public sector accounts for 23% of employment and 3% of bonuses. Thus, the remaining 97% of bonuses are paid to the private sector.

In the financial year 2010-11 the average private sector worker received £1,670 in bonuses, nearly ten times higher than the average public sector bonus of £180.

But private sector workers are on average in receipt of lower regular pay than people working in the public sector; bonuses are a more significant part of total pay in the private sector.

Only 4% of employees work in Finance and Insurance, but they account for nearly

40% of total bonuses in the financial year 2010-11. Information and communication also accounts for a large share of bonus payments (11%) relative to its size (4% of employment).


The second largest share (14%) of total bonus payments was in the retail, wholesale and repair sector. But this does not translate into very large bonus payments per employee, as 17% of the total workforce is employed within this industry.

Bonuses per employee are substantially higher in Finance and Insurance than in any other part of the economy. In the financial year 2010-11, the average financial sector bonus per employee was £12,500.


The industry with the second highest bonuses per employee was mining and quarrying, with average bonuses per employee of around half of those paid in finance and insurance. However, despite the high bonus per employee, the mining and quarrying industry only accounted for 1.1% of total bonuses in 2010-11. This is because the industry is a very small proportion of the total workforce (0.2%).


The lowest bonuses per employee were paid in the education and health and social work industries, where the bonuses per head figures were negligible.

In some industries, bonuses make up a very significant part of the total pay. This is particularly true in Finance and Insurance, where bonuses accounted for 24.5% of the total earnings in the financial year 2010-11.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "The Chancellor's austerity message has failed to reach the City, where a small clique of super-rich bankers has grabbed 40% of all bonuses paid out in the UK.

"City bonuses are still far too high and the incentives for risky and damaging decisions far too great, especially when bankers know that taxpayers will have to pick up the tab."