The cost of settling legal claims bought by no-win no-fee solicitors on behalf of thousands of women who were underpaid when working for the local authority already stands at close to £900 million.
No one can be certain about the size of the final bill, although a sum in excess of £1 billion looks a racing certainty and the figure could be higher if future court judgments go against the council.
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has approved borrowing of £528 million to help the council meet the bill – a decision which in itself pushes up city debt to a level where a quarter of the revenue budget will soon be used solely for repaying loans rather than running services.
That would be bad enough at a time when swingeing Government grant cuts leave the council facing a £600 million funding gap. But as accountants Grant Thornton noted in an audit report,