Laura Sharman 23 August 2018

Equal pay claims will put 'unprecedented' pressure on council, warns watchdog

The cost of resolving equal pay claims could put 'unprecedented financial pressure' on council services in Glasgow, the spending watchdog has warned.

In a new report, the Accounts Commission said that while Glasgow City Council has made 'steady progress' over the last decade, the equal pay claims could significantly affect how the council delivers services.

It warned the cost of meeting the claims is unlikely to be covered by traditional funding options such as the use of existing reserves or selling assets.

Graham Sharp, chair of the Accounts Commission, said: 'The scale and complexity of Glasgow's socio-economic challenges are unique in Scotland and, like all local authorities, it's 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.'

The report praised the council's 'effective leadership and record of strong financial management', highlighting the fact £102.5m of savings have been made through its Transformation Programme over the last two years.

Susan Aitken, leader of the council, said: 'At the heart of any Best Value audit is the question of whether the council is delivering quality services that respond to the needs of individuals and communities - and I'm pleased that clear and steady progress in Glasgow has been recognised.

'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.'

She added: '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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