The £37,000 pay gap between East Sussex’s top and bottom earners

Figures from the Office for National Statistics have revealed 'vast economic divides' across the UK
Figures from the Office for National Statistics have revealed 'vast economic divides' across the UK

Top earners in East Sussex earn an average of £37,500 more per year than their lower-paid counterparts, figures show.

Campaigners have called for a change of culture in the business world, after figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed ‘vast economic divides’ across the UK.

In East Sussex, the average weekly pay packet for the top ten per cent of earners among full-time workers in 2018 was 3.3 times higher than for the bottom ten per cent.

The top earners were paid an average £1,035 per week – the equivalent of £53,810 per year.

For lower earners, average pay was just £314 per week, or £16,350 per year.

Luke Hildyard, director of independent think tank the High Pay Centre, said: “The UK is one of the most unequal developed countries in the world with some of both the richest and poorest regions in Western Europe.

“Most people are deeply uncomfortable with such wide divisions and rightly believe that we should be doing better.

“Corporate governance reforms, stronger trade union representation in low-paid, precarious industries and a change in business culture would all go a long way to building a fairer economy.”

The average full-time employee in East Sussex works for 38.5 hours per week.

With a median salary of £27,378 per year, this means the average worker gets paid £13.68 per hour.

But the average hourly wage for the bottom ten per cent of workers is just £8.17, compared to £26.88 for those at the top end of the scale.

The figures refer to just basic pay, and do not include bonuses or overtime.

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.

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

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

The gap between the highest and lowest earners in East Sussex is slightly smaller than the national average.

Across the UK, the average annual salary for the highest ten per cent of earners is 3.4 times higher than for lower earners.

Top earners were paid £56,420 in 2018, compared to £16,578 for lower-paid workers – a gap of almost £40,000.

The region with the greatest gap was London, where the highest paid earned £74,547 in 2018, almost £56,000 higher than the lowest earners.

Most equal was Wales, where the highest ten per cent of earners were paid £46,415, and the lowest £16,224.

Mr Hildyard 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 at the top and at the bottom.”

• Report by Harriet Clugston, data reporter

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