Equality pay-out will cost Hampshire County Council £65m

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HAMPSHIRE County Council expects it will have to pay out £65m to campaigners for equal pay.

Using equality laws passed in 2007, workers at the council including social workers, home carers, cooks and others, are claiming up to six years’ back pay, which they say they are owed because men have been paid more for the same or equivalent jobs.

The council has admitted it has set aside £65m to cover the claims.

Council leader Cllr Ken Thornber said: ‘We have increased our equal pay reserve fund by £17m, to £65m, and expect a settlement this year.’

The announcement came at a Hampshire County Council meeting, in which councillors questioned a £48m increase in council reserves, at the same time as losing 1,200 staff members, and cutting its budget by £55m.

But Cllr Thornber said: ‘We need this money in reserve, because councils have to have reserves. The money is earmarked for specific things, and is for use in emergencies.’

The county’s reserve is £214m.