Elsewhere wage freezes and cuts in the private sector played a part in the sigificant reduction.
However, commentators suggest that the size of the fall could be explained by the large number of private sector pay settlements that are concluded in the opening months of the year and suggested that some increases would be reinstated later.
John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, took a gloomier view, though. He said: “Bonuses have virtually dried up in the private sector this year as employers cut costs and staff try to hold onto their jobs. Add the arrival of price deflation into the mix, and the chances are that growth in regular pay (excluding bonuses) will also show signs of a further marked slump in the coming months.”