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Councils miss out on equal pay fund

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Six councils had their bids to borrow rejected in the government’s£455m capitalisation round to fund equal pay liabilities.

The authorities, including Merton , Ealing and Bromley LBCs, were judged on their financial position and whether they had other fiscal options.

Thirty-four councils will benefit from this round, allowing them to borrow up to 80% of the amounts requested.

Local government minister John Healey said he was confident that the councils would make up the remaining 20% through their own reserves.

The authorities will be able to borrow more flexibly or sell their assets to meet back pay liabilities of up to six years mainly for low-paid female workers discriminated against by pay and grading structures.

The back pay bill alone for local government is estimated at£3bn.

The move brings the total funding earmarked for equal-pay capitalisation over the past three years to£1.1bn.

Among the councils to get the green light to fund their equal pay plans are Birmingham , Liverpool and Salford city councils and Hampshire CC .

"[We’ve] given the go ahead for them to borrow 80% of what they put in for, which is what we did last year," Mr Healey said.

He added that the proportion of councils making solid progress with their single-status reviews had surged past the half-way mark with "good momentum and impetus".

"This July three-fifths had completed equal pay reviews it was two-fifths one year earlier," he said.

Sir Steve Bullock (Lab), chair of Local Government Employers , said the approval represented "a major step" along the road to achieving equal pay across the sector.

It was also a "clear indication" that the government shared councils’ determination to resolve the issue.

Cllr Wendy Thompson (Con), cabinet member for resources at Wolverhampton City Council , said that while the latest approval would help, the city was still facing a massive struggle to implement single status for its 13,000 staff.

"We’re grateful for the capitalisation. But at the same time we wish we hadn’t been in the situation where it was required," she said.

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