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Mind the wage gap: Change demanded as pay inequality in Shropshire is revealed

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Campaigners are calling for a change of culture after new figures have revealed the full scale of pay inequality in the region county.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trade Union Congress, called for the minimum wage to be increased to £10 an hour ‘as soon as possible’.

She added that millions of people are stuck in low-paid jobs with little chance of progression, which is bad for both workers and national productivity.

This graphic shows the average earnings of the top 20 per cent of workers compared to the bottom 20 per cent

Her comments come after it was revealed that Shropshire’s highest earners are paid an average of £20,600 more than the bottom 10 per cent of earners.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that the average weekly pay packet for the top 20 per cent of earners among full-time workers in 2018 was 2.1 times higher than for their lower-paid counterparts.

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The highest paid in Telford & Wrekin also out-earn the lowest by 2.1 times.

Ms O’Grady said: “Many towns have been held back by lack of investment, leading to a shortage of solid jobs with good pay.

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“They need a fair chance to rebuild their local economy with government support through a new National Investment Bank.”

Luke Hildyard, director of independent think tank the High Pay Centre, said: “These figures highlight the vast economic divides that exist in Britain, both within regions and local authorities, and between them.

“It’s striking to see that the top earners in London earn 50 per cent more than even the highest paid workers in Wales and northern England.

“At the same time, the figures show how stereotypes of wealthy London and the South East mask the hardship experienced by many people in those regions, and the huge gaps between those who are at the top and at the bottom.”

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How do the figures compare?

Across the UK, the average annual salary for the highest 20 per cent of earners is 2.3 times higher than for lower earners. Top earners were paid £43,129 in 2018, compared to £18,970 for lower-paid workers – a gap of £24,160.

The region with the greatest gap was London, where the highest paid earned £54,798 in 2018, almost £32,200 higher than the lowest earners. Most equal was Wales, where the highest 20 per cent of earners were paid £38,241, and the lowest £17,940. Across the West Midlands, the top earners take home an average of £32,920 more than those on the lowest wages.

The average weekly pay packet for the top 10 per cent of earners among full-time workers was 3.1 times higher than for the bottom 10 per cent.

The top earners were paid an average £942 per week – the equivalent of £48,980 per year. But for lower earners, average pay was just £309 per week, or £16,060 per year. In Staffordshire the difference was a staggering £34,800, while in Dudley it was £29,670.

Wolverhampton had the lowest level of pay inequality in the region, at £18,170. Meanwhile workers in Walsall towards the top end of the pay scale took home £43,370, which is £27,490 more than their lower paid counterparts.

The wage gap in Sandwell was £23,980, with higher earners receiving £39,780.

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