Highly paid employees in West Lothian earn about £20,000 a year more than those on the bottom rungs of the salary ladder, while in the Falkirk Council area the figure is £18,000.
The Equality Trust says the figures from the Office for National Statistics, which reveal a gap of nearly £25,000 between the UK’s highest and lowest earners, “paint a depressing picture of dangerous income inequality”.
In West Lothian, the average weekly pay packet for the top 20 per cent of earners in full-time roles is now twice those in the bottom fifth – a gap of £20,332. In Falkirk, the average weekly pay packet for the top 20 per cent of earners is now 1.9 times those in the bottom fifth – a gap of £17,706. Both below the UK average of 2.2 times of a difference.
The figures for local workers use median rather than mean averages to stop them being skewed by particularly small or large salaries.
They show that for West Lothian the top 20 per cent of earners were paid £774 weekly on average, or £40,264 annually. For low earners, weekly pay was £383 – £19,932 a year. In Falkirk, the top 20 per cent of earners were paid £714 weekly on average, or £37,112 annually. For low earners, weekly pay was £373 – £19,406 a year.
The average full-time employee in Falkirk works 37.5 hours per week, with a median annual salary of £27,602. The average full-time employee in West Lothian also works 37.5 hours per week, but with an annual salary of £27,477. The figures refer to basic pay and do not include bonuses or overtime.
Across the UK, top earners are paid £44,533 on average, compared to £19,874 for their lowest-paid counterparts.
London had the greatest gap, where top-paid earners took home £56,300 – nearly £33,000 more than low earners. The most equal area in the figures was Wales.
Dr Wanda Wyporska, executive director of charity the Equality Trust, said: “Just like the gender pay gap, the gap between high and low paid workers is not shrinking fast enough.
“But this is an even greater scandal because the evidence shows that in countries with high levels of inequality, like the UK, there are higher levels of violent crime, physical and mental ill-health, infant mortality and lower levels of trust and educational attainment.
“By continuing to ignore inequality, decision makers are failing to truly realise the social and economic potential of this country.”
The Trades Union Congress estimates one in nine UK workers are in insecure and poorly paid “precarious work”, including those on zero-hours contracts and self-employed people making less than the minimum wage.
General secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Working people deserve a fairer share of the wealth they create. It’s not right that millions are struggling to make ends meet, while those at the top pocket bumper pay cheques.
“We need to reset the balance of power in our economy.
“That means giving workers new rights so they can access the protection of a union in every workplace and bargain for better pay and conditions across industries.”