David Lidington called on to champion civil service equal pay as SCS gender gap widens

Cabinet Office minister told by FDA trade union that gender pay gap “will not close on its own”

David Lidington, minister for the Cabinet Office. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

By Tamsin Rutter

14 Aug 2018

The FDA has called on David Lidington to champion fair and equal pay in Whitehall following the release of official statistics revealing that the gender pay gap for senior civil servants widened in the year to March 2018.

The trade union representing the Senior Civil Service said the minister for the Cabinet Office must act because the gap “will not close on its own”.

Despite a narrowing of the overall civil service gender pay gap, it increased for the SCS from 4.2% in March 2017 to 5.5% in March this year, according to the Office for National Statistics’ latest release on civil service employment stats. The ONS said the “largest gender pay gap was that of part-time Senior Civil Service responsibility level, increasing from 11.5% to 15%”.


The data revealed that the median gender pay gap for all civil service employees decreased from 12.7% to 12.2% in the year to March 2018.

In the SCS, men are paid a median annual gross salary of £83,650 while women are paid £79,060, according to the ONS.

Victoria Taylor, FDA national officer, told Civil Service World: “Since the publication of the gender pay gap in the civil service last year, the FDA has been ready and willing to work with departments to address the issues that lead to the gender pay gap. This includes issues with the pay structure itself such as frozen pay progression and limited flexible working opportunities – part-time work should not be the only option.

“The slow progress in improving the position – or indeed maintaining the current level of disparity – of women delivering crucial public services is disappointing; if the civil service is committed to increasing representation of women in senior leadership positions, they need to show that they reward and value women as much as men.”

She added that a system that allows women to be paid less than their male colleagues cannot continue unchallenged. The union is “calling for David Lidington, as minister for the Cabinet Office, to be a champion for civil servants’ pay and this also means championing fair and equal pay”, she added.

“The gender pay gap will not close on its own, it will only close when there is the political will to meaningfully engage with the FDA and other civil service trade unions to find solutions.”

A government spokeswoman said: “As the prime minister has said, equality for women is a right, and our whole society is the poorer as long as it remains unrealised. We are continuing to look into the factors behind the gender pay gap across the civil service and to further improve the gender balance at all grades and roles.”

The ONS stats also showed that the proportion of female employees working at SCS level was 42.7% as of March this year, up almost 11 percentage points on 2008 figures. The number of part-time staff increased by 0.5% (almost 500 people) in the year to March 2018, which was much less than the increase in full-time staff, at 3.2% (more than 10,000 people).

Women at all grades in the civil service are more likely than their male colleagues to work part-time, but in particular in the two lowest grades, according to an analysis by the Institute for Government think tank.

The ONS is handing over responsibility for the collection and publication of civil service statistics to the Cabinet Office from October, with the next publication of data due in the summer of 2019. This is to allow the Cabinet Office to develop workforce statistics alongside other data collections to support workforce policy priorities and deliver an analytic service.

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