Women in Crawley earn an average of £129 per week less than men – a problem one councillor has called ‘a disease’.
The figures were part of the borough council’s draft Employment & Skills Programme 2019-2024, which was put to the cabinet for approval.
The town’s gender pay gap is larger than the South East average – which stands at £118 – a fact Geraint Thomas (Lab, Northgate) described as ‘quite concerning’.
Peter Smith, cabinet member for planning and economic development, suggested that part of the problem lay with low paid jobs which offer flexible terms – appealing to parents who have to work around school hours.
He added: “It’s a disease across the whole country.
“But we have special pockets in Crawley and we do need to tackle them – we need to take the lid off and help people to achieve better.”
Leader Peter Lamb said: “In general we tend to find the public sector has higher levels of female employment than the private sector and, in general, tend to be higher paid.
“And we have the lowest percentage of public sector jobs in the country of any local authority.
“Not because of cuts here, I should add – it’s always been that way.”
The point of the Employment & Skills Programme is to give Crawley people access to better jobs, allowing Crawley businesses to recruit and fill their skills gaps.
At the moment, more than two-thirds of people who work in Crawley do not live in the town – the highest level of ‘in-commuting’ in the South East.
Mr Smith added: “I think, if there’s a will, you can improve particularly women’s opportunities and give them the chance to work in higher paid or higher skilled jobs without having to make them work 60 hours a week for 40 hours’ money, like a lot of us men do.”