Minding the gender pay gap

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The south west has one of the highest gender pay gaps in the UK according to new Government figures.

The pay difference between men and women in the south west is almost exactly the same as London (12.5%) but less than the south east (16.8%) and the east midlands (14.1%).

The figures are revealed in the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (Ashe) published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The Ashe survey also shows the gross weekly earnings for men in the south west are £503.40 per week compared to £399.70 for women – considerably lower than the equivalent figures for the UK as a whole of £538 for men and £439 for women.

And within the region pay varies hugely, from £590.50 per week for full-time men in south Gloucestershire, to £267 per week for full-time women in parts of Cornwall.

Commenting on the figures, South West TUC regional secretary Nigel Costley said such a big gender pay gap was damaging to the region’s economy – and warned that it was likely to increase further in coming months.

“With hundreds of thousands of female public servants set to lose their jobs, there are real fears that women’s income could start to fall as they struggle to find work in the private sector, where the gender pay gap is twice as high,” he said.

“And while the full-time pay gap is falling in the UK as a whole, the part-time gender pay gap is still shockingly big at around 35%.

The ONS figures also show that for the tax year ending 5 April 2010, men in the south west earned £26,311 (down 0.8% on 2009), compared to £28,100 (down 0.6%) for men across the UK.

Women in the south west earned £20,455 (up 2.2%) compared to £22,500 (up 1.7%) for women across the UK.

The lowest pay in the south west is in Cornwall’s former Caradon area (abolished in last year’s structural changes to local government) where pay dropped by 7.9% last year to £13,394.

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