Cumbria County Council has increased the amount set aside to cover the costs of equal pay claims to more than £15m.
The GMB and Unison unions brought equal pay claims on behalf of 2,926 care assistants, cleaners and cooks, and last March an employment tribunal ruled that 3,000 of the council’s female staff had been paid less than male colleagues for the equivalent work. The council is appealing against the decision.
The council originally set aside £8.7m for the compensation claims, but that figure has now been increased to £15.3m.
Councillor Joan Stocker, deputy leader of the council, warned the payouts could mean cuts to services and produce “unpalatable” options.
“Cumbria is not alone in facing equal pay costs, but this is potentially the largest single financial problem that the council has ever had to face,” she said.
“It will involve fundamental service reviews that will not only look at what services we provide but also the way in which we provide them,” she added.