Glasgow City Council approves £548m “remortgage” plan

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Bronagh McGeary
Deputy News Editor

Glasgow City Council needs to raise around £548m to settle equal pay claims

Glasgow City Council has approved plans to finance the recently agreed upon equal pay settlement by selling off venues to an arm’s length body and leasing them back. The Council and the equal pay claimant group represented by Action4Equality, UNISON, GMB, and UNITE reached an agreement last month to settle equal pay claims. Glasgow City Council needs to raise around £548m to settle equal pay claims from over 12,000 women, dating back at least a decade.

The deal will see councillors on Glasgow’s City Administration Committee transfer ownership of Venues to City Property Glasgow Investments LLP (CPGI), a company owned by the council, which would pay for them by remortgaging them. The financial strategy of “remortgaging” will allow for the repayment of claims over a long period of time.

The move comes after the 48-hour strike in October of last year, which saw 8,000 participants strike in protest at the lack of progress in equal pay talks.

Ownership of prominent, cultural buildings such as the Riverside Museum and the Emirates arena are to be transferred to a Council-owned body, and the Council will take out long-term loans against the value of the venues. The venues will be rented back to the council, and the cost of the lease will be designed to meet the loan repayments.

The Council insisted that there would be no change on how these buildings are accessed on a daily basis.

Susan Aitken, Glasgow City Council leader, stated: “[it] finally delivers pay justice for thousands of women in our workforce.”

Aitken also said this move “starts to put right a wrong that has damaged the Council, its workforce and the city for too long.”

The Council will be faced with a substantial annual bill for the next few decades, but will not have to make any drastic cuts. In paying back the entire amount over a longer period of time, it will not affect the services in Glasgow. Ms. Aitken highlighted that attempting to do so over a short period of time would “really have an impact on services and communities in Glasgow. It is better that, like any mortgage, we do it over a period of time.”