An extraordinary Finance and Resources took place this morning, attended by Cllr Paul Tilsley.
Speaking from outside the meeting, Group Leader Roger Harmer summarised. “This situation is so serious, yet I fear that Birmingham Labour are still not recognising the severity”.
“We know that the equal pay situation was caused by two clear errors by the current Labour administration. The first was enriching job roles back in 2017 pay negotiation. The second, was the fact that the teams have been operating on task and finish arrangements consistently since Covid”.
“It appears that some members the cabinet, including the current leader of the council were informed of the potential liability at the beginning of February, but no action was taken”.
“This council needs to stop the bleed. The way to do this is to complete the job evaluation and stop task and finish arrangements”.
Cllr Tilsley said “Job evaluation is not likely to be done until 1 April 2025, which I worked out very roughly as 18 months. This takes us over £1 billion, which is startling.”
“At the moment we could do with chinks of light and hope at the end of this process, because we are faced with very stark choices. A reduced workforce will be able to provide fewer services to the 1.1M people in Birmingham. There will be a sale of assets and increased borrowing, and we already have a debt of £3.4M.”
“Citizens of Birmingham are faced with stark reality of increasing council tax well above 5% headroom that govt have allowed. Two councils have already been allowed beyond the 4.95% limit”
The auditor added gravely that there’s “No scenario where this doesn’t significantly impact on the services this council provides and it’s residents”.
He went on to warn the council “You are at a really serious point. If you don’t take this seriously it will be taken out of your hands.”
Responding after the event, Group Leader Roger Harmer commented: “The auditor highlighted the ongoing failure to get agreement on the methodology of the job evaluation scheme, now over 11 weeks after the equal pay disaster was made public. This shows a staggering lack of urgency by the leadership of the Council to stop the bleed from equal pay claims. Equal pay continues to rise at a rate of £300 per minute. It’s time to make a decision and get on with it".