Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 17th April 2019

It’s only fair, if you work hard and behave decently, you should be able to earn enough to look after your family. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the way it works in the UK. I wrote last week about the rise in working poverty and how more children than ever before are facing poverty in our country, but rather than re-covering the same sad story, there’s another issue I’d like to raise.

For the last few years companies have been required to publish data on the pay gap between men and women at their business. While this isn’t comparing roles like-for-like, if there’s an overall gap between what men and men get paid questions should be asked about why and whether it’s highlighting an underlying problem.

When the first stats were released two years ago, Crawley Borough Council had a zero pay gap. As I predicted at the time, a gap has now slightly opened up in favour of women, as the council appointed its first female Chief Executive. To some extent this pay gap shouldn’t be surprising, women are more likely than men to take on public sector roles and the lowest paid jobs at the council tend to be manual work where there are more male than female employees.

Even so, many councils still seem to have a gap favouring men. Perhaps the worst local offender being West Sussex County Council, where it stands at 9.7%. Across the private sector this problem is even bigger, with the report of Crawley’s Social Mobility Scrutiny Panel highlighting that the gap in Crawley is above the regional average.

It’s not all clean sailing for men either. Speaking with headteachers they highlight how all too often Crawley’s boys are dropping out of education at the first opportunity and taking low paying work, jobs which are now at risk of automation.

None of this is inevitable, we can put fairness back into our economy and ensure a hard day’s work gets a decent day’s pay again. While others stand by, through the work of our Employment and Skills Plan, Crawley Labour are delivering for Crawley.

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