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Despite efforts to attract more IT professionals into government, industry is still widely seen a more attractive place to work than the UK public sector, according to the findings of new market research.

While those in public IT are strong advocates for the benefits of working in the sector, the prospect of better pay would make the majority consider switching to the private sector, a survey claims.

One of the key positives for public sector IT professionals is a perceived better work-life balance, finds the poll for business technology specialists Mercury.

Another apparently widespread belief is that public IT departments have a 'nurturing' culture, which few think is the case for the private sector.

Public sector IT jobs are, however, thought to fare less favourably in terms of job recognition and satisfaction, levels of responsibility and competitive salaries.

To put the figures into perspective, the research was based around a sample of 50 public sector professionals - therefore 10 people would swing the results by 20 per cent.

Sticking to the most striking stats, virtually all public sector professionals, of which over three-quarters had previously worked in private sector IT, felt their pay was not up to par with the private sector.

As regards salary packages, almost half of the public sector respondents thought the pay gap with the private sector has widened. On the other hand, a similar number of those in the private sector believe public sector salaries have now caught up.

Two thirds of public respondents suggested that IT professionals were not respected by other departments, while half of private sector IT personnel agreed about their own sector.

While seven out of 10 private sector professionals thought IT was well integrated into their core business operations, just 34 per cent of public sector pro fessionals feel the same way, the research found.

The study also found just 14 per cent of those the public sector felt they were sufficiently resourced, against 53 per cent in the private sector.

What everyone seems to agree on is that IT is often made "a scapegoat for the poor decisions of others", say the researchers.

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