Theresa May’s male communications chief is being paid £15,000 more than the woman he replaced, despite the Prime Minister’s pledge to close the gender pay gap.
Former BBC journalist Robbie Gibb is one of the highest paid special advisers in Government on £140,000 per year, while Ms May’s former spin doctor Katie Perrior earned £125,000 a year for doing the same job, according to newly-released Government transparency data.
The Prime Minister has previously spoken out against the gender pay gap and urged millions of small firms to start publishing their pay data amid fears that progress on tackling wage disparity was too slow.
She also waded into a high-profile row over discrepancies in the pay of the BBC’s biggest stars, where two thirds of the staff earning more than £150,000 were male.
At a Westminster briefing, Ms May’s official spokesman would not be drawn on questions about why Mr Gibb was paid thousands of pounds more than Ms Perrior, who resigned as director of communications when her boss called June’s snap election.
Later, a Downing Street spokesperson said salary decisions were based on experience and pointed to official figures showing that women across the civil service were paid 1.6 per cent more on average than men.
Asked about the case, the spokesperson said: “We strive to pay at appropriate levels which is based on a number of factors, including the candidates previous experience.”
The figures were revealed in government records detailing the £9m pay bill over 2016/17 for special advisers – known as “spads” – who are taxpayer-funded political appointees that advise specific ministers.
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said: “Theresa May promised a country that works for everyone, but is worsening gender inequality in her own backyard.
“Spads are personal political appointments made by or on behalf of the Prime Minister herself, so she cannot shake that her fingerprints are all over this injustice.”
Ms May’s chief of staff Gavin Barwell, a former Tory MP, also takes home £140,000 – roughly twice the pay packet of a backbench MP – which matches the salaries of the PM’s former joint chiefs of staffs Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill.
The pair quit in June amid a Conservative backlash over their role in the election campaign, which left Ms May without a Commons majority, forcing her to do a deal with Democratic Unionist Party to prop up her minority government.
Of the 88 spads currently employed, 25 earn the same or more than an MP, whose base salary is around £74,000.
The total pay bill for top aides in administrations led by David Cameron and subsequently Ms May between April 2016 and April 2017 was £7.3m, while ‘golden goodbye’ payments for £1.5m were paid to outgoing advisers.
Under Labour in 2009-2010, the pay bill for ministerial advisers was £6.8m, with 71 on the government payroll.
The new figures also reveal that seven cabinet ministers employ more special advisers than permitted under the Ministerial Code, which only allows two aides per minister.
Women in full-time work earn 13.9 per cent less than their male counterparts and the issue is more pronounced among minority groups, according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC).