400 TEACHING JOBS ‘AT RISK’
COUNCIL CHIEFS STRUGGLING TO MEET FUNDING IN FACE OF CUTS
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