Women working in Tower Hamlets lose out due to widening pay gap

Women are falling behind in the financial districts. Pic: Megan Trace

Women are falling behind in the financial districts. Pic: Megan Trace

The gender pay gap is widening in Tower Hamlets and London’s financial services while it slowly closes for the rest of the UK, according to annual employment data released by the Office of National Statistics.

Women’s average hourly wage have been slashed by 6.7 per cent to £19.60 in Tower Hamlets while men’s have slightly dropped by 1.9 per cent to £26.90.  This is largely caused by the wage changes in the financial district of Canary Wharf as it provides over a third of the jobs in the borough.

The average across both sexes in Tower Hamlets is £22.80 a drop of 5.9 per cent. Other Eastlondonline’s boroughs have seen their hourly full-time wages increase, Croydon’s to £14.60, Lewisham’s to £15.50, both less than 1 per cent, while Hackney’s has dropped by 7 per cent to £14.70.

The wage gap for those living in Tower Hamlets has remained largely unchanged, but have become more pronounced for those travelling to work from outside the borough. This is another indication that Canary Wharf is largely responsible for the borough’s increasing wage gap.

Local councillor Andrew Wood said: “It is disappointing that full time female workers in Tower Hamlets wages have declined faster than for men. This is clearly driven by the bonus culture in the financial services industries at Canary Wharf. If bonuses are to be cut they should at least be cut equally for both sexes, if not we have to ask why.”

Across London a similar pattern can be seen in the financial services with men’s wages increasing by 1.5 per cent and women’s falling by 5 per cent.

Overall, the private sector in the UK has managed to slightly close the gender pay gap, with wages rising by around 2 per cent across the board. But, the financial services remain a problematic area as well as the public sector, as a whole.

The figures revealed a small decline in the overall pay gap from 9.6 per cent in 2013 to 9.4 per cent, the lowest since 1997.

Proposed legislation will require large businesses to publish the differences between their average pay for their male and female employees. This is contained within the Equality Act 2010 which was being held up by the Conservative government, until recently.

Jemima Olchawski, head of policy and insight at the Fawcett Society who campaign for pay equality, said: “As we see across the country, women working in Tower Hamlets earn less than men. At the current rate of progress closing the UK wide pay gap will take fifty years, women in east London and across the country just can’t afford to wait that long.”

“We need to speed up the pace of change with real transparency on pay, better quality part time work so that more women can balance work and care and support for fathers to take time out to care for their children.”

Tower Hamlets remained the worst in the UK for earning discrepancy between residents and those working in the borough highlighted by the borough having the highest level of child poverty in the country.


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