Gender pay gap ‘is meaningless’ says Portsmouth councillor after it is revealed some women earn more than male colleagues 

The gender pay gap
The gender pay gap

A PORTSMOUTH councillor has branded the gender pay gap 'meaningless' after it was revealed some female staff at the council earn 21 per cent more than their male counterparts.

Tory Luke Stubbs also described the 'double standards' of media reports on gender pay as a sign of 'the world we live in.'

Cllr Luke Stubbs 'Picture Ian Hargreaves (180470-1)

Cllr Luke Stubbs 'Picture Ian Hargreaves (180470-1)

Fresh evidence on earnings was brought to Portsmouth City Council's employment committee this week following a meeting last December where members requested a more detailed breakdown on pay.

READ MORE: Portsmouth councillors says ‘we need to make sure young men are not left behind’ over pay

Last year they heard that in March 2018 women at the council earned on average 9.55 per cent less than men.

But the most recent findings showed that between the ages of 22 and 29 women in full-time employment at the council were paid 20.91 per cent more than men of the same age.

And part-time female workers in their 20s were paid 4.92 per cent more than men.

Councillor Stubbs requested the data at the last committee meeting. He said: 'You will find the biggest discrepancy is the number of female staff in their 20s which is dramatically more than male staff in their 20s. This needs to be made known because there is a media-driven narrative that women are systematically underpaid. There is no evidence of that.

'I remember years ago we would hear every year about how the proportion of women attending university was reaching half. Now it's over that, up to 60 per cent, and no one has mentioned it. If it is 55 per cent men that is outrageous, if it's 60 per cent women that's fine. This is the world that we are living in.'

The report covered all jobs at the council including local schools.

Cllr Stubbs added: 'The whole idea behind the gender pay gap is meaningless.'

For Cllr Darren Sanders more information was needed : 'What we don't know is if this is common across the country and other authorities.

'It would be useful to know why and where this is happening. It might be concentrated in one particular department.'

73 per cent of all council staff were female, the report also found, with 3,853 women and 1,441 men employed by the authority.

But Jon Bell, head of HR at the council, said there was no apparent reason for this. 'I would say hand on heart I don't think there's anything unfairly biased towards either gender in terms of our recruitment policies or our HR policies,' he said.

'These are policies about developing staff and giving people opportunities. We clearly have that disparity there, I don't know the extent of it across the wider economy.'

Full-time male workers over the age of 40 on average earned more than women at the council.