The highest paid staff at Wokingham Borough Council are paid more than eight times that of their lowest paid colleagues, as councillors have clashed over the Gender Pay Gap.

The highest-earning officials at the council are paid £150,000, compared to £18,562 for the lowest income for employees.

That’s a ratio of 8.1 to 1.

Meanwhile, the median income of employees at Wokingham Borough Council is £31,346. That means the highest paid staff are being paid nearly five times as much as average employees.

The ratio from the highest to the median salary is 4.8 to 1.

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The mean salary at Wokingham Borough Council is £34,302.

The figures were calculated by Full Time Equivalent Salary, in an attempt to make the salaries comparable as some employees work more hours than others.  You can see them below:

FTE Salary Data 2021/22

Highest Paid: £150,000

Lowest Paid: £18,562

Mean: £34,302

Median: £31,346

Ratio Highest to Lowest: 8.1:1

Ratio Highest to Median: 4.8:1

The figures were revealed at the borough council’s full council meeting yesterday (Thursday, July 22), where councillors clashed over the Gender Pay Gap.

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Councillor Rachel Burgess, the leader of the Labour group and representative for Norreys said: “I’m sorry to see that there is no mention of the Gender Pay Gap in this report, the Gender Pay Gap is not event referenced as a relevant document.

“It’s not a legal requirement, but the guidance under which this document was prepared does make reference to the Gender Pay Gap, and specifically ensure that the council’s pay structures are not discriminatory and encourages organisations to make information public relating to workforce gender profiles and aspects of pay.

Bracknell News: Wokingham Labour party leader Councillor Rachel BurgessWokingham Labour party leader Councillor Rachel Burgess

“Since last year, the mean gender pay gap at Wokingham Borough Council has increased to 15.6 per cent, this is worse than the latest data available for the local authority average and it’s 11 per cent than neighbouring Reading Borough Council’s gap which comes in at 4.71 per cent. The median Gender Pay Gap between men and women is even worse, at 17.3 per cent, compared to Reading’s 2.5 per cent, it’s not acceptable that average pay for men and women in this council for men is over 15 per cent higher than the average pay for women. The only way to resolve such a Gender Pay Gap is to proactively put measures in place to close it, these are exactly the kind of measures as referenced in the Local Government Association guidance.”

Cllr Burgess’ figures come from the hourly Gender Pay Gap figures posted onto the Government’s website for the last financial year (2020/21).

Cllr John Halsall, the Conservative leader of the council and a member for Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe responded to her comments.

He said: “We do a separate report on gender pay policy and it goes through the Personnel Board every year, we have particular demographic differences between us and Reading, they employ a lot more direct workers, we have much more office staff, so there are differences which make the comparisons really invalid, but the point is taken, I commend the pay policy to the council.”

Bracknell News: John Halsall, Wokingham Borough Council leaderJohn Halsall, Wokingham Borough Council leader

Although there is a recorded hourly pay gap between men and women in the 2020/21 financial year,  women do form the majority of positions on every pay level at the council.

Of the highest paid staff at the council, 63.3 per cent are women, and 36.7 per cent are men.

In the lowest pay quarter, 81.3 per cent of staff are women, and 18.7 per cent are men.

Percentage of women in each pay quarter at Wokingham Borough Council

Upper hourly pay quarter (highest paid)

Women: 63.3 per cent   Men: 36.7 per cent

Upper middle hourly pay quarter

Women: 73.8 per cent   Men: 26.2 per cent

Lower middle hourly pay quarter

Women:  81 per cent   Men: 19 per cent

Lower hourly pay quarter (lowest paid)

Women:  81.3 per cent Men: 18.7 per cent

Every financial year, councils must publish a pay policy statement. This is mandated in the Localism Act of 2011.

Councillors voted to approve the pay policy at the full council meeting.