Barclays faces pay backlash after profits hit by string of charges

22 February 2018, 06:48

Barclays has posted an annual loss of £1.9bn and faced a backlash on gender pay after it admitted women in its investment bank unit are paid, on average, almost half the sum enjoyed by men.

Pre-tax profits when exceptional items were excluded rose 10% to £3.54bn during 2017 despite earnings at its investment bank plunging to £2.1bn, with Barclays blaming the 22% dive on "weak market conditions".

It said one-off charges to hit its bottom line included £901m from changes to US corporate tax laws made by US President Donald Trump in December and a previously announced £1.2bn write-down from the sale of Barclays Africa Group.

The bank also reported setting aside £1.2bn for litigation and conduct, including £700m to cover further costs related to the payment protection insurance scandal and said it had taken a £127m hit in its final quarter following Carillion's collapse.

Chief executive Jes Staley said 2017 had largely been a "year of considerable strategic progress" but admitted work was still needed on gender pay.

Figures it submitted to the Government showed a 48% gap between the mean hourly pay of men and women in Barclays International.

The bank said it paid men and women in the same roles equally and the figure reflected male domination in the top jobs.

But chair of the Treasury Select Committee of MPs, Nicky Morgan, said it was "shocking" for 2018.

She said: "Barclays has signed up to the Women in Finance Charter, which commits signatories to supporting the progression of women into senior roles in the financial services sector."

The bank said it was encouraged by business at the start of 2018 but admitted uncertainty and increased market volatility following the UK's vote to leave the European Union was "likely to continue until the exact nature of the future trading relationship with the EU becomes clear".

Potential risks include increased likelihood of a recession, sparking lower growth, higher unemployment and falling house prices; changes to EU passporting rights; and more difficulty recruiting and retaining talented staff, the bank said.

Its shares ended the day 4.4% higher as the bank said it was aiming to more than double its dividend for 2018 to 6.5p per share.