Local Government Employers said today that fewer than half of English and Welsh councils have carried out reviews into gender pay inequalities, nine months after a deadline to do so.
The Local Government Employers (LGE), which represents councils on employment matters, said 47% had completed pay reviews, which are designed to remove historic inequalities between male and female-dominated occupations in local government, up from 34% a year ago. The vast majority of councils are covered by the 1997 single status agreement, which governs employment conditions in local government, and so should have completed pay reviews by 31 March 2007.
LGE said that to end gender pay inequality councils faced costs of £1bn for back pay, £1.5bn to cover increased pay and £400m to provide pay protection for those who lose out from reviews. It also said that the review process had been held up by no-win, no-fee lawyers, who had taken cases to tribunal in order to gain full back pay for women – rather than the lower levels agreed between employers and unions to ensure an affordable agreement.
LGE also said that 29% of equal pay costs for the average local authority concerned staff in schools, such as teaching assistants, and said that governing bodies should meet these from their own reserves rather than council budgets.