8th Dec, 2019

Solihull Council's gender pay gap still worst in West Midlands

John Carlon 28th Nov, 2019 Updated: 28th Nov, 2019

THE gap in pay between men and women at Solihull Council continues to be the largest among West MIdlands local authorities.

In 2019, it paid its female workers 75p for every £1 paid to male colleagues.

The figure is despite Solihull Council’s gender pay gap narrowing from 26.7 per cent to 25.1 per cent in the past year.

The pay gap is based on median hourly earnings of the council’s men compared to women.

Conservative-run Solihull has the widest gender pay gap among West Midlands authorities because of its 25.1 percentage point difference, compared to the next worst performing council, Dudley, at 20 per cent.

Among the best performing councils is Coventry with a 3.2 per cent gender pay gap. It introduced ‘single status’ equal pay measures in the last decade. Wolverhampton council has no gender pay gap (scoring ‘zero’), with women paid £1 for every £1 of male earnings.

Since 2018, the pay gap at Solihull Council between the lowest paid groups of women and men increased slightly, from 81.5 per cent to 81.7 per cent.

The pay gap persists despite the council employing more women than men – 65.1 per cent of the full-time payroll are women.

There are more women than men in all pay-bands of Solihull Council, that sit below the male chief executive Nick Page.

In an agenda report to the remuneration committee, set to meet on December 4, council officers blame in-house provision of school catering for the large pay gap.

The report stated: “[The median pay gap] is due to the distribution of the workforce and the decision to provide certain service such as catering in schools, in-house. The lower paid roles in the council are predominantly occupied by female employees. For example, in catering there are approximately 461 female employees compared to 21 males.”

David Williams, branch secretary of Unison at Solihull Council, said: “There is such a big pay gap at Solihull Council, and we are forever bringing up the issue in our meetings with management.

“The council is making the right steps, but we want to see real action.

“The lowest paid in Solihull council are more likely to be women, who work in administrative jobs, and as cleaners and cooks.

“We also have an issue with black and Asian workers facing a race pay gap. The top management of the council is not diverse enough.”

Nationally, the Office for National Statistics has reported a gradual thinning of the gap from 9.4 per cent in 2017 to 9.1 per cent in 2018.

The ONS first started collecting gender pay gap data in 1997, when the national difference was 17.4 per cent.

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