Highly-paid employees in Swindon earn about £25,000 a year more than those on the bottom rungs of the salary ladder.

In Swindon, the average weekly pay packet for the top 20 per cent of earners in full-time roles is now 2.2 times those in the bottom fifth – a gap of £24,924.

Office for National Statistics figures show the highest earners were paid £863 weekly on average, or £44,871 annually. For low earners, weekly pay was just £384, which is £19,947 a year.

The Equality Trust charity said these figures painted 'a depressing picture of dangerous income inequality'.

Executive director Dr Wanda Wyporska said: "Just like the gender pay gap, the gap between high and low paid workers is not shrinking fast enough.

"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 average full-time employee in Swindon works 37.5 hours per week, with a median annual salary of £28,096. The figures refer to basic pay and do not include bonuses or overtime. They use median averages to stop them being skewed by particularly small or large salaries.

The pay gap between Swindon's highest and lowest earners is in line with the UK average. Top earners in the UK as a whole are paid £44,533 on average, compared to £19,874 for their lowest-paid counterparts.

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.

TUC 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 by 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."