The government must relax borrowing limits to allow councils to meet their obligations to implement equal pay, town hall leaders said on Saturday.
A report by Local Government Employers said councils faced significant bills to implement the 1997 Single Status Agreement, which should achieve equal pay between men and women, by next March, as agreed with unions.
The LGE said current borrowing limits to implement back pay settlements of £200m were too low with one authority facing liabilities of £250m.
The report also called for independent arbitrators to monitor agreements between councils and unions to ensure authorities are not subsequently hit by mass equal pay claims at employment tribunals.
The agreement should benefit traditionally female-dominated sectors such as social care, but proposals to implement in councils have involved cutting terms and conditions for at least some practitioners, most recently in Falkirk.