FEMALE Labour councillors are urging Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and business leaders to help reduce the gender pay gap.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (OFNS) shows that across the UK women currently earn 18 per cent less than men.

And in Basingstoke and Deane on average, men working full time are earning £4.36 per hour more than women working full time in the borough.

The OFNS figures show that the gap between a man’s and a woman’s weekly wage in Basingstoke is now 32 per cent, one of the biggest gaps in the South East and bigger than almost all of its neighbouring areas.

Labour councillor, Cllr Chloe Ashfield, along with her fellow female labour councillors are posing the question “Why is Basingstoke doing so badly?”

Cllr Ashfield said: “If we’re going to change things, then we need to understand why the pay gap is so much wider here in Basingstoke and Deane. These figures are truly shocking.

“This is an issue that is not going to go anywhere and with the timing of it being International Women’s Day on Wednesday this is why we decided to look at this now and raise the issue with the council.”

In the past 12 months, the average hourly rate of pay for a woman in fulltime work has decreased by around four per cent whilst men’s hourly pay has increased by 1.5 per cent.

From April new regulations will be put in place for companies employing at least 250 workers to report their gender pay gap revealing differences between the pay of men and women.

Cllr Ashfield added: “We know we aren’t going to totally eradicate this gap, but we need to do all we can to close it.

“In Basingstoke we are seeing some big industry companies leave the town, so in theory this could be having an effect.

“This is why we need a better understanding about this issue to resolve it for the future generations of women who want to work in our town.”