400 TEACH­ING JOBS ‘AT RISK’

COUN­CIL CHIEFS STRUG­GLING TO MEET FUND­ING IN FACE OF CUTS

South Wales Evening Post - - FRONT PAGE -

Swansea Coun­cil leader Rob Ste­wart has un­der­lined the risk to hun­dreds of teach­ing roles due to an ‘un­bridge­able gap’ in Welsh Govern­ment fund­ing. LIZ PERKINS re­ports

FOUR hun­dred teach­ing jobs are un­der threat in Swansea – the equiv­a­lent of two sec­ondary schools full of staff – due to a short­fall in fund­ing.

Coun­cil bosses re­vealed scores of teach­ing jobs could go as they are strug­gling to tackle the ma­jor fund­ing gap.

A to­tal of £8 mil­lion ex­tra has been pledged for teach­ers’ pay Wales-wide – but Swansea will only get £606,000 of the fund­ing pot and has to find £15 mil­lion in 2018-19 from its re­sources to cover the short­fall.

In an email seen by the Evening Post, Swansea Coun­cil leader Rob Ste­wart un­der­lined the real risk to jobs.

On be­ing asked about the com­ments, Mr Ste­wart stressed he was set­ting out the sce­nario to Welsh Govern­ment of what could hap­pen un­less ex­tra cash for pay and pen­sions was made avail­able.

In the email he said: “I wanted to draw your at­ten­tion to the fact that de­spite the an­nounce­ment by UK and WG of some help for teach­ers’ pay and pen­sions (£8 mil­lion and £15 mil­lion re­spec­tively for the next year and a half) this does not fix the prob­lem and leaves a sig­nif­i­cant un­bridge­able gap.

“For Swansea we get £606,000 this year against pay pres­sures of £4.2 mil­lion. Pen­sion ad­just­ments pres­sures are on top of this and could add a fur­ther £5£7 mil­lion. Some 400 teach­ing jobs could go as a re­sult of the pres­sures as the au­thor­ity does not have the re­sources to plug a gap of this size.

“The fig­ures the UK min­is­ter men­tioned in re­cent cor­re­spon­dence have been known in Wales for some time and were an­nounced by (Welsh sec­re­tary) Alun Cairns MP on one of his trips to Swansea a few weeks ago. While you may have felt as­sured by th­ese fig­ures, Welsh lo­cal au­thor­ity lead­ers no mat­ter what their po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship, have deep con­cerns.”

He added: “Our teach­ing unions are very aware of the im­pact of the un­der­fund­ing. They un­der­stand that this is not of the coun­cils’ mak­ing and govern­ment needs to step in and re­solve this is­sue. The draft set­tle­ment does not cover the pres­sures or in­deed the ac­tual pay award. You only have to think 22 au­thor­i­ties with all their teach­ers to re­alise there is a short­fall.”

He high­lighted a se­ries of work­force pres­sures for ed­u­ca­tion in Wales for school bud­gets 2019-20, in­clud­ing £25 mil­lion for the teach­ers’ pay award, £19 mil­lion for a non-teach­ing staff pay award, a fur­ther £10 mil­lion for pen­sions (go­ing by 2016 Scape, or pub­lic sec­tor pen­sion scheme, ad­just­ments), £32 mil- lion for 2018 Scape ad­just­ments, £14 mil­lion for lo­cal govern­ment em­ployer rates for non­teach­ing staff and £14 mil­lion in other pres­sures.

The find­ings were re­leased fol­low­ing WLGA cor­re­spon­dence with the Cabi­net Sec­re­tary for Ed­u­ca­tion.

In the email, Mr Ste­wart said the im­pact of a lack of West­min­ster fund­ing will be job losses.

“The WG fund­ing from West­min­ster has taken a ter­ri­ble hit since the start of the Con­ser­va­tive aus­ter­ity bud­gets,” he said.

“The scale of th­ese un­funded pres­sures means po­ten­tial job losses. The As­so­ci­a­tion of Direc-

tors of Ed­u­ca­tion Wales (ADEW) have ex­pressed deep con­cern at the abil­ity of schools to ab­sorb th­ese pres­sures ei­ther from a cash flat bud­get for schools or a cash cut to schools.

“Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties have to set bal­anced bud­gets which have to be seen in the con­text of ad­di­tional pres­sures such as so­cial care fund­ing. Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties al­ways fund pay rises, how­ever un­less there is much bet­ter set­tle­ment school bud­gets will come un­der greater pres­sure than ever.”

He also called for sup­port in tack­ling the is­sue. Mr Ste­wart said he hoped new money would be made avail­able in light of the con­cerns he raised in his email.

He said: “It’s im­por­tant to stress that we were lay­ing out to Welsh Govern­ment the sce­nario that could come to pass if no fur­ther fund­ing is re­ceived from it to help with teach­ers’ pay and pen­sions.”

A Welsh Govern­ment spokesper­son said: “Where the UK Govern­ment makes changes that The UK Bud­get con­tained lit­tle ex­tra fund­ing for Wales. But we have been clear that in the event ad­di­tional fund­ing is avail­able, lo­cal govern­ment is a key pri­or­ity

- Welsh Govern­ment spokesper­son in­crease the costs to em­ploy­ers of teach­ers’ pen­sions, it should be for the UK Govern­ment to fund those higher costs, and we have made this point to HM Trea­sury.

“We have worked hard to of­fer lo­cal govern­ment the best set­tle­ment pos­si­ble in the cur­rent fi­nan­cial cli­mate and have made fur­ther al­lo­ca­tions to mit­i­gate most of the re­duc­tion coun­cils had been ex­pect­ing fol­low­ing the fi­nal bud­get last year.

“The im­por­tance of ed­u­ca­tion is re­flected in an ad­di­tional £15 mil­lion al­lo­cated for schools and we are also di­rect­ing all of the £23.5 mil­lion an­nounced by the UK Govern­ment to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to fund the school teach­ers’ pay award. We will con­tinue to pri­ori­tise school fund­ing – help­ing to raise school stan­dards and re­mov­ing bar­ri­ers to learn­ing to sup­port young peo­ple to reach their po­ten­tial.

“The UK Bud­get con­tained lit­tle ex­tra fund­ing for Wales. But we have been clear that in the event ad­di­tional fund­ing is avail­able, lo­cal govern­ment is a key pri­or­ity.”

For Swansea we get £606,000 this year against pay pres­sures of £4.2 mil­lion. Pen­sion ad­just­ments pres­sures are on top of this and could add a fur­ther £5-£7 mil­lion. Some 400 teach­ing jobs could go as a re­sult of the pres­sures as the au­thor­ity does not have the re­sources to plug a gap of this size

- Swansea Coun­cil leader Rob Ste­wart

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