Shropshire Council still has a higher than average gender pay gap, according to new figures.

While more than three quarters of the council’s employees are women, men occupy nearly half of its top paid roles – and earn on average £2.85 an hour more than their female colleagues.

But the council highlighted its high number of cleaning and catering staff – jobs predominantly occupied by women – as a significant contributing factor.

Like all organisations with more than 250 employees, the authority is required by law to publish its gender pay gap figures each year.

Its gender pay gap report for 2019/20 reveals its mean gender pay gap has only marginally reduced from 18.23 per cent to 18.17 per cent since last year.

The national average is 17.2 per cent, while the average gap for English local authorities is 6.1 per cent.

The report also highlighted the authority’s much lower gender pay gap of just 3.5 per cent for employees under 40.

The report said: “Whilst the organisational gender profile has remained the same there has been some shift in terms of the percentages of females in the lower quartiles in terms of hourly pay across the organisation.

“This could be explained by the fact that whilst Shropshire Council’s headcount has reduced since last year the percentage of the organisation working in our cleaning and catering services has increased from 23 per cent to 25 per cent.

“Therefore, a quarter of our workforce are in the predominantly lower paid roles and over 90 per cent of those roles are filled by women. This has a profound impact on the gender pay gap for Shropshire Council.

“When considering our gender pay gap for roles outside of our cleaning and catering services there is a significant reduction to 10.6 per cent.”

The report listed some of the ways the council is addressing the gender pay gap, including allowing staff to request flexible and home working.

The report concluded: “Shropshire Council is committed to equality across all strands of diversity and have a number of policies in place to work to achieving a representative workforce across Shropshire.”