James Cleverly questions the Government on efforts to address the gender pay gap, which can partly be explained by professional and other women returning to the workplace in lesser roles than the ones they left to take time off to raise families or look after loved ones.
James Cleverly (Braintree) (Con)
3. What steps the Government are taking to support women back into work when they have had time out of the workplace to look after children or other relatives. 
The Minister for Women (Anne Milton)
The 2017 spring Budget made £5 million available for returners in both the public sector and the private sector. We have already announced a number of programmes to help people return to work, including ones for allied health professionals, civil servants and social workers.
The gender pay gap can be explained in part by professional and other women returning to the workplace in lesser roles than the ones they left to take time off to raise families or look after loved ones. Will my right hon. Friend highlight what the Government are doing to address that particular shortfall?
I thank my hon. Friend for raising what is actually a very important point. It should be remembered that 89% of people who take time off work for caring responsibilities are women. Closing the gender pay gap is extremely important. Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown that women earn 2% less on average for every year spent out of paid work, and the figure is even higher for highly paid women. We are talking to employers, evaluating all the programmes and gathering evidence of what works, and we hope to publish guidance on best practice for small and medium-sized employers next spring.