Glasgow council faces ‘serious’ cost pressures over £500m equal pay battle and £130m deficit

Glasgow City Council is facing a period of “unprecedented” financial pressures on services due to the cost of settling ongoing equal pay claims.

A report by the Accounts Commission— Scotland’s spending watchdog— highlighted that the local authority is facing a funding gap of £129m over the next three years and faces as “unique set of challenges, greater than those faced by other local authorities.”

The total cost for the claimants is yet to be finalised— however there are fears it could reach £500m, according to BBC sources. Despite the commission’s report that Glasgow CC had made savings of over £100m during the past two years, the report said it was “important this momentum continues.”

After numerous Employment Tribunals and legal battles, the authority announced in January that it was going to commit to a spending plan and reach settlements with thousands of mostly female staff members.

Graham Sharp, chair of the Accounts Commission, said the “scale and complexity” of Glasgow’s socioeconomic challenges are unique in Scotland, adding that it was facing “considerable financial pressures.”

“The council has made steady progress since our last report and has a good track record in making savings, but we are seriously concerned about the impact that resolving equal pay claims could have on how the council delivers public services, and we will be continuing to take a close interest in that issue," he added.  

Sharp added that the council is facing funding pressures similar to that of financial difficulties around the country— including Northamptonshire County Council, East Sussex County Council, and Torbay Council.

Leader of Glasgow City Council Cllr Susan Aitken said: “We are still relatively early in the current council term, but the city government has translated its priorities into a positive strategic plan for the council and the city, which has the support of all parties. A key part of that means involving Glaswegians more often and more closely in our decision-making and shaping our services, so it is important that this report highlights our ongoing work to improve partnership working and community participation.

“The challenge of resolving equal pay is substantial and it would be unusual if it wasn’t a focus for the audit team. However, it is a challenge we are committed to deal with and we are making substantial progress.”

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Image credit: David Cheskin


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