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 gender pay data amid fears that progress on tackling pay 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 people 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 the snap election in June.
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, a Downing Street 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 or government departments.
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.
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The total pay bill for spads 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.