The Gender Pay Gap - Is Progress Really Being Made?

The gender pay gap has been widely reported throughout the UK for a number of years. Most articles tend to focus on the date at which women begin ‘working for free’. Although this stat is important, and it’s been great for raising awareness of the issue, the true cost of lost earnings for women in the UK is often lost behind the headlines. In this article, we will explore the true cost of lost earnings, how the gender pay gap has changed over time and which towns are the biggest culprits of pay inequality.

How The Gender Pay Gap Has Changed Through The Years

We studied data from 1970-2017 to understand how pay inequality has changed over the last 47 years. This would give us a clear picture of the working life of a person who began working in 1970 at age 18 and retired in 2017 at age 65.

Throughout their working life, the gender pay gap has reduced, with significant progress being made throughout the years. In 1970, men earned a massive 84% more than women on average.

By 2017, this figure had reduced dramatically but was still at 25%.

Although public awareness of the gender pay gap has exploded over the last 5 years, unfortunately, progress has slowed significantly. The pay gap has reduced by just 1% from 2012 (26%) to 2017 (25%).

If the improvements made over the last 5 years continue at the current rate, the gender pay gap would not disappear until the year 2142.

Although the conversation is now more open than ever, which is clearly a good thing – the figures suggest that little progress is being made on the issue.

The Average Pay of Men vs Women in 2017

The average pay for a man in the UK is £37,512.80 per year, with women earning £30,113.20 on average. This represents an extra £7,399.60 per annum – This is the equivalent of 13 weeks of the average UK household spending in 2017 according to ONS.

The reduced pay effectively means that women are ‘working for free’ from October 21st.

The Total Cost Of Lost Earnings For Women

Although percentages and annual lost earnings make for some shocking statistics, the bigger picture shows the true scale of the inequality.

For a woman of 18 who began work in 1970 and received the national average income for a female each year, the total lost income by 2017 is £234,702 less than her male counterpart. Based on these figures man would be able to retire over 8 years earlier and would still have earned the same amount over the course of their career.

Regional Differences in Pay Inequality

Although the gender pay gap is a national problem, the issue is worse in some constituencies than others.

Men in Derby South earn a shocking 41.1% more than their female counterparts – a figure not seen nationally since 1992.

Although Derby South is shockingly above the national average, they are not alone. Below is a table of the top 25 constituencies with the biggest pay inequality nationally.

Constituency Pay Gap (%) Year Equivalent
Derby South 41.1 1992
Weaver Vale 37.6 1999
Gravesham 36.9 1999
Kingston upon Hull North 35.0 2002
Kenilworth and Southam 34.4 2004
Cleethorpes 33.3 2004
Solihull 33.1 2004
Easington 32.2 2004
Wolverhampton South West 32.2 2004
Blaenau Gwent 32.2 2004
Ribble Valley 31.9 2004
Erewash 31.1 2008
Ilford South 30.9 2008
Gedling 30.5 2008
New Forest East 30.3 2009
Birmingham, Erdington 29.9 2009
Meon Valley 29.8 2009
South Swindon 29.7 2009
North West Cambridgeshire 29.6 2009
Gillingham and Rainham 29.3 2009
Aldershot 29.2 2009
Newport East 29.1 2009
Vale of Glamorgan 28.9 2009
Wolverhampton South East 28.8 2009
Arundel and South Downs 28.6 2009

Gender Pay Gap Figures By Year

Year Men Women Income Lost Pay Gap %
1970 £1,560.00 £847.60 £712.40 84%
1971 £1,710.80 £951.60 £759.20 80%
1972 £1,908.40 £1,066.00 £842.40 79%
1973 £2,178.80 £1,201.20 £977.60 81%
1974 £2,480.40 £1,398.80 £1,081.60 77%
1975 £3,161.60 £1,944.80 £1,216.80 63%
1976 £3,733.60 £2,402.40 £1,331.20 55%
1977 £4,087.20 £2,652.00 £1,435.20 54%
1978 £4,633.20 £2,932.80 £1,700.40 58%
1979 £5,272.80 £3,276.00 £1,996.80 61%
1980 £6,474.00 £4,097.60 £2,376.40 58%
1981 £7,306.00 £4,752.80 £2,553.20 54%
1982 £8,034.00 £5,148.00 £2,886.00 56%
1983 £8,710.00 £5,657.60 £3,052.40 54%
1983 £8,564.40 £5,694.00 £2,870.40 50%
1984 £9,297.60 £6,094.40 £3,203.20 53%
1985 £10,004.80 £6,572.80 £3,432.00 52%
1986 £10,790.00 £7,134.40 £3,655.60 51%
1987 £11,648.00 £7,701.20 £3,946.80 51%
1988 £12,781.60 £8,538.40 £4,243.20 50%
1989 £14,014.00 £9,479.60 £4,534.40 48%
1990 £15,371.20 £10,478.00 £4,893.20 47%
1991 £16,582.80 £11,564.80 £5,018.00 43%
1992 £17,685.20 £12,537.20 £5,148.00 41%
1993 £18,382.00 £13,135.20 £5,246.80 40%
1994 £18,829.20 £13,598.00 £5,231.20 38%
1995 £19,479.20 £14,029.60 £5,449.60 39%
1996 £20,363.20 £14,716.00 £5,647.20 38%
1997 £21,678.80 £15,693.60 £5,985.20 38%
1998 £22,874.80 £16,432.00 £6,442.80 39%
1999 £23,670.40 £17,258.80 £6,411.60 37%
2000 £24,627.20 £17,981.60 £6,645.60 37%
2001 £26,041.60 £19,151.60 £6,890.00 36%
2002 £27,341.60 £20,186.40 £7,155.20 35%
2003 £28,173.60 £20,909.20 £7,264.40 35%
2004 £28,626.00 £21,730.80 £6,895.20 32%
2005 £29,645.20 £22,703.20 £6,942.00 31%
2006 £30,799.60 £23,441.60 £7,358.00 31%
2007 £31,616.00 £24,174.80 £7,441.20 31%
2008 £33,134.40 £25,266.80 £7,867.60 31%
2009 £33,576.40 £26,114.40 £7,462.00 29%
2010 £34,164.00 £26,764.40 £7,399.60 28%
2011 £34,382.40 £26,863.20 £7,519.20 28%
2012 £34,512.40 £27,346.80 £7,165.60 26%
2013 £35,354.80 £27,768.00 £7,586.80 27%
2014 £35,214.40 £28,106.00 £7,108.40 25%
2015 £35,536.80 £28,449.20 £7,087.60 25%
2016 £36,524.80 £29,291.60 £7,233.20 25%
2017 £37,512.80 £30,113.20 £7,399.60 25%

Source: All data sourced from ONS

about-the-author-gary-hemming

About The Author

This content was produced by our Commercial Lending Director, Gary Hemming. Gary has over 15 years’ experience in financial services and specialises in bridging loans, commercial mortgages, development finance and business loans. He is widely respected in his field and regularly provides expert commentary for specialist trade publications, specialist business press as well as local and national press.

Gary Hemming CeMAP CeFA CeRGI CSP  -  
Commercial Lending Director