Two and a half years’ worth of council tax – Lib Dems respond to the auditor’s report on the potential Equal Pay claims

29 Sep 2023

The auditors at Grant Thornton have released a report responding to the financial crisis at Birmingham City Council.

The external auditor now thinks that the total Equal Pay bill will be more than £760M. The report states: “Given the risks to effective delivery of the JE (job evaluation) process… we consider that this initial estimate is now likely to be understated and the final liability the council would have to settle in the future could well exceed £1 billion.”

Responding, Group Leader Roger Harmer said “£1 billion is a vast sum. To put it in context, Birmingham City Council collects £400 million in council tax revenue per year, so £1 billion is equivalent to 2 and a half years’ worth of council tax.”

“There’s further evidence of a leadership cover-up too. The report complains that “the emerging risks in September 2022 relating to Equal Pay were not shared with us until March 2023”. Alarmingly late, but still well before John Cotton expressed his surprise about the issue in June 2023.”

The report expresses serious concern about the breakdown of the relationship between the political leadership of the council and senior officers. The report cites “There is evidence of growing mistrust between certain officers and members. This in turn appears to be causing mistrust between officers.”

Cllr Harmer commented “The Labour Leadership of the council is seeking to deflect their failures onto senior officers, when it is their own bad choices and poor leadership that have led the city into a financial crisis. The Liberal Democrat group thank and support the officers in doing an exceptional job in unprecedented times.”

“This criticism of senior officers must stop, and we must come together.”