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 Gender pay gap progress 'grinding to a halt'
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Rank; Hector Tax Inspector

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Posted - 11/10/2010 :  09:56:12  Show Profile Send Jo_B a Private Message
Progress in closing the gender pay gap appears to be "grinding to a halt", according to a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The commission said that on average women earned 16% less than men, widening to 27% for women aged 40.

Among other equality issues, it said that girls of all ethnic backgrounds outperformed boys in education.

Commission chairman Trevor Phillips said there was a risk of society being divided by inequality.

The study also warns that the ageing population is creating new kinds of "chronic disadvantage", as many middle-aged couples struggle to look after two generations: their parents and teenage children. A quarter of women in their 50s are carers.

When it came to pay, the report said that the gender pay gap was lowest for the under 30s, rising more than five-fold by the time workers reached 40, with a "pernicious earnings penalty" affecting some ethnic minority and disabled people.

Women with no qualifications faced a 58% loss in earnings over their lifetime if they had children, said the commission in its 700-page report, entitled How Fair is Britain?

Disabled men earned 11% less than other male workers, while the gap was 22% for women.

Black graduates faced a pay penalty of up to 24%, the study suggested.

Total household wealth of the top 10% in society was almost 100 times higher than for the poorest 10%, while one in five people lived in a household with less than 60% of average income.

The report also suggested that men and women from the highest social class could expect to live for up to seven years longer than those from lower socio-economic groups; and black Caribbean and Pakistani babies were twice as likely to die in the first year of life as Bangladeshi and white babies.

The report also said that conviction rates for rape were "stubbornly low", that obesity was on the rise, and that two-thirds of gay, lesbian and transsexual secondary students said they had been bullied.

Mr Phillips said: "This review holds up the mirror to fairness in Britain. It is the most complete picture of its kind ever compiled.

"It shows that we are a people who have moved light years in our attitudes to all kinds of human difference, and in our desire to be a truly fair society, but that we are still a country where our achievements haven't yet caught up with our aspirations."

He said that 21st Century Britain faced "the danger of a society divided by the barriers of inequality and injustice".

"For some, the gateways to opportunity appear permanently closed, no matter how hard they try; whilst others seem to have been issued with an 'access all areas' pass at birth," he added.

He warned that recession, demographic change and new technology "all threaten to deepen the fault lines between insiders and outsiders".

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