Glasgow City Council to ‘remortgage’ assets to make £548m equal pay settlement
Glasgow City Council’s City Administration Committee has backed a deal that will see the authourity use property assets to secure loans that allow it to meet the cost of settling its £548m equal pay settlement.
Last month, the council and the equal pay claimant group represented by Action4Equality, UNISON, GMB and UNITE reached an agreement in principle on a package of payments to settle equal pay claims from thousands of women going back more than a decade.
The cash is to be generated through some of the city’s property assets used to unlock loans.
Officials said wholly-owned arm’s-length company City Property Glasgow Investments LLP has begun engaging lenders with the aim of refinancing a loan originally taken in 2010 - releasing significant additional value due to a growth in the value of its assets and more favourable interest rates.
The council said it will also sell a significant further portfolio of operational buildings to City Property and then lease them back at a commercial rate.
The purchase will be funded by long-term loans, with the lease payments meeting the annual cost of the borrowing.
This means the buildings will remain in the city’s ownership and users will not see any difference in how they access them on a day-to-day basis.
Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken announced that the annual cost of the deal, which includes interest rates, was likely to be about £25m a year for “many years”.
Discussions are still ongoing with potential funders, however the council expects the Emirates Arena, Riverside Museum, SEC Armadillo, Scotstoun Leisure Centre, Tollcross International Swimming Centre, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow Museums Resource Centre, City Halls, Toryglen Football Centre, Gorbals Leisure Centre and Bellahouston Leisure Centre to become part of the City Property portfolio.
The plan also sets in train a process expected to see workers affected by the equal pay settlement receive details of their individual entitlements over the next few months and compensation paid from this summer.
Council leader Susan Aitken, said:”I’m delighted to have won backing for a deal that finally delivers pay justice for thousands of women in our workforce.
“When I became council leader in 2017, I promised I’d bring to an end more than a decade of inaction on equal pay.
“A year ago, we began negotiations and, today, the council formally agreed a plan to pay women at Glasgow City Council what they are owed.
“That starts to put right a wrong that has damaged the council, its workforce and the city for too long.
“I want to thank the women for their determination; their dedication to the city and its people, and for trusting me to deliver what they have always deserved.
Cllr Aitken said: “I’ve always been clear that, although settling equal pay has been about delivering justice for thousands of the women in our workforce, meeting the substantial cost of doing that must be fair for citizens.
“Releasing the potential of our property, while keeping it in the city’s ownership, protects services and the future of these valued assets.”