Babergh District Council has third highest gender pay gap of English councils

The homes of Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council in Russell Road, Ipswich. Borough co

The homes of Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council in Russell Road, Ipswich. Borough council leader David Ellesmere argues that having a single Suffolk council would be a bad idea. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Babergh District Council has the third highest gender pay gap of all local authorities in the country to have submitted their results so far, according to latest figures.

To date, 185 out of 353 English councils have filed their pay details to the Government Equalities Office – two weeks before the deadline for public bodies and councils to do so.

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council in Kent has the largest gender pay gap at 33.6% – a third less than men’s pay.

Breckland District Council in Norfolk has the second highest at 31.3%, while Babergh has 28.3% to make it the third highest of councils so far.

Of all the councils to publish their figures so far, just 8.1% – fewer than one in 10 – have no gender pay gap at all, while 28.6% favouring women.

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Some Suffolk authorities have already published their figures.

Suffolk County Council has reported a 15% pay gap, but while men earn more there are more women working at the authority, with 71% of the workforce comprising women.

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A spokesman for the county said one of the main reasons for the gender pay gap was because a significant proportion of the women on the payroll who were part-time and were keen to fit their work around family commitments.

He pointed out that Suffolk’s gender pay gap was in line with the national average for local authorities and the public sector generally.

At Ipswich Borough Council the gender pay gap was less, with 6% the figure recorded in favour of men.

The borough’s chief operating officer, Helen Pluck, said she did not feel there was a “glass ceiling” at the authority that she had broken through to become the second most senior member of staff.

She said: “These figures show that men and women doing the same level of job get the same level of pay. That is how it should be – when people go for a job, we’re not interested in their gender – only in whether they are the best person for the job.”

The only reason for any gap was the fact that there were two male senior managers for every female one, she added.

The gender pay gap is calculated as the difference between the average salaries of men and women - it is not the same as equal pay, where firms are required to pay people doing the same job the same salary regardless of gender.

By April 4 companies and public bodies with 250 employees or more are required to have submitted their median and mean gender pay gap figures to the Government.

The national average median gender pay gap is 18.4%.

An estimated 9,000 employers are expected to have to submit such data - with those who miss the deadline potentially facing legal action.

The Chief Executive of Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils, Arthur Charvonia said:

“We are of course obliged by Government to publish figures for each of our two councils. All of our staff, across both councils, are actually employed on the same pay scales and provide services for both authorities. The individual figures for the two councils are therefore meaningless and instead you have to look at the combined workforce that serves Babergh and Mid Suffolk to get a true understanding of our gender pay position.”

“The combined mean gender pay gap for Babergh and Mid Suffolk is 13.9%. This is less than the national average of 17.4%. The data for March 2018 will soon be available and we will use this to research the reasons for our 13.9% gender pay gap, and work with staff and unions, to develop an action plan to further reduce our gender pay gap.”

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