New figures on pay from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest there is now greater gender equality when it comes to average salaries.

For full-time workers, the gap in pay between males and females fell to 9.1 per cent as of April of this year, down 10.1 per cent in 2010.

It is the first time the gap has fallen below ten per cent and is down to women’s salaries increasing at a faster rate than men’s.

The median gross annual earnings level for women in full-time employment was £22,900, said the ONS, up 1.9 per cent on the previous year, while men’s wages rose by 1.2 per cent to £28,400.

When it comes to part-time work, women were already paid more than men, but in the 12 months to April 2011 this gap widened from 4.3 per cent to 5.6 per cent.

However, because a much larger proportion of men than women work in full-time rather than full-time jobs, the overall pay gap stands at 19.5 per cent, down from 19.8 per cent last year.

Commenting on the figures, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber told the Press Association: “Today’s fall in the gender pay gap is very welcome, though with female unemployment at a 23-year high the main concern for many women will be keeping jobs, let alone securing higher pay.”

Meanwhile, the data also revealed widening inequality between the best and worst paid workers in the UK.

The hourly earnings – including overtime – of those in the top tenth of pay levels has risen by 1.8 per cent over the past year, compared of a rise of just 0.1 per cent for the worst paid.

It follows the publication this week of the High Pay Commission’s final report, which said that soaring pay rises for the most wealthy in the UK compared to the average employee is “creating inequalities last seen in the Victorian era”.