'˜Difficult decisions' for Glasgow after equal pay settlement

Glasgow City Council has 'difficult decisions' to make on funding for local services after agreeing to pay out £500 million in equal pay claims, its leader has warned.

Three months after a well-supported strike, Glasgows equal pay campaigners have won a long-running dispute with the council. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Susan Aitken said the agreement reached this week was likely to cost the council “tens of millions” of pounds per year in interest payments as a result of extra borrowing.

Having only set aside around £35m for the bill, she said the council was currently in talks with banks to remortgage many of its public buildings to access the required cash.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Around 12,500 women are set to receive payouts after an agreement was reached in the long-running dispute over equal pay.

The claims arose from a pay and conditions scheme introduced by the local authority more than a decade ago, which campaigners say led to women being paid up to £3 an hour less than men.

The deal, which still needs to be signed off by councillors and claimants, means that the council has to raise money quickly before the payouts can begin.

Ms Aitken declined to say which buildings might be remortgaged due to ongoing negotiations with banks, but said famous landmarks such as the Kelvingrove Museum would not be included.

However, she admitted that the plan would result in a significant annual bill for the council. “We will have to service that debt, so we are looking at some tens of millions each year.”

Asked if this would lead to cuts to services, she said: “It means that we have some difficult decisions to make, undoubtedly.