In many cases public services are a more important source of decent jobs for women than for men, and the gender pay gap may be less in the public sector than in the private sector. However, supply of some public services may be out-sourced to external suppliers who pay lower wages and provide worse conditions of work. This is often argued to be ‘more efficient’ and provide greater ‘value for money’. But it may worsen the quality of the service because contractors frequently require more work to be completed in the same time without requiring investment to improve productivity.
Using data from the Office of National Statistics, WBG found that in 2017 women made up just over two-thirds of public sector employees in the UK, and 34% of employed women work in the public sector, compared to 18.5% of men. The hourly gender wage gap in 2016 in the public sector was 18.3% compared to 24.8% in the private sector. Public sector employment has been falling as a result of expenditure cuts and privatisation. While prices have continued to rise, there has been a freeze on pay in the public sector and thus a fall in real public sector wages.