Equal pay bill at Walsall Council could hit £50m

The cost to taxpayers of equal pay claims by Walsall Council staff could hit £50m, it has emerged.

The authority is planning to borrow £48.4m to cover the extra money it will have to shell out in salaries of thousands of workers, as part of the single status agreement, the Express and Star has reported.

The salary review, which has already been carried out at councils across the UK, is designed to ensure equal pay for workers of similar skill levels and prevent the hundreds of salary disputes that have plagued councils for years.

Council leader Mike Bird has said the current proposal would see 29% of just under 8,000 council staff having salaries cut, with everyone else set to gain financially or keep the same wages.

Councillor Chris Towe, Walsall Council’s Cabinet member for finance, said the authority was required to earmark almost £50m, but that the actual final figure was subject to union talks.

“The government has asked us to enter a future notional sum in our statement of accounts,” he said.

But councillor Ian Robertson, a member of the council’s audit committee, said he was worried about the implications of any long-term borrowing.

“In the long-term, an amount like this is going to put the council in hock for the foreseeable future.”

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