Swindon’s women are earning 22% less than men, according to the latest Office for National Statistics data.

The gender pay gap has slightly increased from last year by 2%. The last time the gap was wider was in 2018 at 22.9%.

This means that, over the course of the year, women have effectively been working for free since October 13. Female workers received £12.25 an hour on average while men were paid an extra £3.41 an hour.

Swindon's gender pay gap this year is worse than the national average of 15.4%. While this has widened from 14.9% in 2020, the longer-term picture shows a downwards trend nationally.

Sophi Berridge, from The Equality Trust, , said: “During the pandemic, women were more likely to be furloughed or made redundant, suffered from the lack of childcare and took on greater responsibilities of home-schooling and care work.

“The slight increase to the gender pay gap indicates there remains a continuing and pressing problem.”

Swindon Equality Group's Tom Wilkes said: "It is useful that we now have data to track and compare gender-based pay differences.

"It is encouraging to see that the gender pay gap has been closing during the last few years but many would argue that this trend is far too slow.

"The whole of society benefits from shrinking the gender pay gap.

"What justifies someone on a minimum wage in the caring professions (almost usually a woman) being paid a fraction of one percent of a chief executive's salary?"

The gender pay gap is calculated as the estimated difference between the average hourly wage for men and women across all jobs.

Felicia Willow, interim CEO of gender equality charity The Fawcett Society said:“The pandemic has had a tough and disproportionate impact on women, in particular women of colour, disabled women and mothers.

“And now in addition to this, a widening gender pay gap paints a worrying picture.”

The ONS data is subject to uncertainty due to challenges collecting data during the pandemic.