Which civil service departments have the biggest gender pay gaps?

CSW crunches the numbers to see which organisations have the biggest gaps in hourly earnings for women and men, and how gender pay gaps have changed over time
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After last year’s widening of the civil service gender pay gap – the first in six years – the latest figures show the difference in average hourly pay of male and female officials has begun to shrink again. But which departments helped to close the gap, and which saw theirs get bigger?

Which central government departments had the biggest gender pay gaps in 2023?

Of the main central government departments, the Cabinet Office – whose figures include the Civil Service Fast Stream, the Crown Commercial Service, the Government Commercial Organisation and the Government Property Agency – had the biggest gap, at 20.2%.

The Treasury and its agencies followed, on 14.3%, before HM Revenue and Customs on 13.5% and the Department for Transport on 13.3%.

At the other end of the table, the Department for Work and Pensions had no median gender pay gap at all.

Note: The statistics show gender pay gaps in the year to March 2023. The figures therefore exclude several existing departments, including DESNZ and DSIT, which were only established in February. Included instead are the figures for their previous iterations, including BEIS and DIT.

What impact do agencies have on the figures?

The numbers look different when departments' respective agencies are taken out of the equation.


The Cabinet Office still has the biggest gap – 18.4% – but its overall figure is brought down partly by the pay parity in the Fast Stream and GPA.

HMRC follows on 13.9%, with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office the next highest, on 11.6%.

For some departments, the difference in the figures when agencies are taken out of the calculation is stark. 

With the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and UK Health Security Agency’s stats included, the Department for Health and Social Care has a 9.1% pay gap – but when they are taken out, it drops to 1.3%.

The Treasury’s 14.3% drops to 7.9% when agencies are removed – in part because the UK Debt Management Office has a 23.5% median gender pay gap.

And the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ pay gap (8.2%) is lower than for the Defra group overall (11%), which is worsened by a 33.1% disparity in the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.

How have the central government departments' gender pay gaps changed over time?

The Treasury has been close to the top of the table over the last 14 years. In that time, the Cabinet Office has climbed the board while others, such as HMRC and the Ministry of Defence, have managed to shrink their gender pay gaps and have ended up further down the table.

At a glance: which civil service organisations had the biggest gender pay gaps overall this year?

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate, a Defra executive agency, posted the civil service’s biggest median pay gap: 33.1%.

It was closely followed by Scotland’s Vehicle Certification Agency on 30.3%, the Wales Office on 27.2%, the Crown Prosecution Service on 26.4% and the UK Debt Management Office on 23.5%.

The Food Standards Agency is one of a handful of parts of government where median hourly pay for women is higher than for men. It posted a gender pay gap of -16.2%.

The Queen Elizabeth II Centre, an arm's-length body under the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Local Communities, also had a significant negative pay gap, at -15.0%. The Government Actuary's Department recorded a -7.7% gap, while the Standards and Testing Agency's was -7.2%.

Below you can see the median gender pay gaps for each civil service organisation that reported results in 2023:


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