The Daily Telegraph

Pay rise is ‘kick in teeth’ for older teachers

- By Anna Mikhailova and Camilla Turner

A TEACHING union has complained that the biggest pay rise given to teachers in 15 years is a “kick in the teeth” for long-serving staff.

It came as the Chancellor suggested public sector workers have had their last big pay rise for years, as he ordered ministers to make “tough choices” to pay for coronaviru­s.

Launching the Autumn Spending Review, Rishi Sunak ordered ministers to find ways of saving money in their department­s, including by cutting down communicat­ions department­s, moving offices out of London and reviewing quangos. Mr Sunak also said he will need to “exercise restraint” in future pay rises for public servants, just after announcing an above-inflation rise for 900,000 workers as a reward for their efforts during the coronaviru­s pandemic. Teachers had the biggest new pay rise given, averaging 3.1 per cent.

However, the Associatio­n of School and College Leaders said it is unfair and unreasonab­le for more experience­d teachers to get a smaller pay rise than their newly qualified colleagues. While new teachers will receive a 5.5 per cent pay boost, longer-serving teachers and leaders will receive a 2.75 per cent rise.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of ASCL, said: “We do not think it is fair or reasonable that the pay award is much lower for experience­d teachers and leaders after years of pay austerity which has seen the real value of salaries deteriorat­e,” he said. “This won’t help to keep long-serving teachers in the profession and feels like a kick in the teeth.”

In 2010 public sector pay was frozen for two years, except for those earning less than £21,000 a year. After that all rises were capped at 1 per cent until 2017, when inflation averaged 2.7 per cent. Teaching unions have repeatedly clashed with the Government in recent months over plans to reopen schools. Earlier this year, the UK’S biggest union told its members not to “engage” with Government plans for schools to reopen on June 1 for children in Reception, Year One and Year Six.

Unions have also branded the Government’s plan to have all pupils back at school in September “pure fantasy”.

The salary increase for new teachers is part of a plan by ministers to raise starting salaries to £30,000 by 2022 in a bid to boost the appeal of the profession to new graduates.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said more experience­d teachers “must see their immense hard work and efforts rewarded fairly, and this pay award does not do that”.

The Comprehens­ive Spending Review will set Whitehall budgets until 2024-25. The Chancellor said the government will need to “exercise restraint in future public sector pay awards” to ensure that, across the whole spending review period public sector pay levels “retain parity with the private sector”. Mr Sunak also appeared to row back from his commitment in the March Budget to increase public sector spending by 2.8 per cent a year above inflation.

Instead, no set spending “envelope” has been fixed, although department­s have been told their budgets will grow above inflation, which was 0.8 per cent in June.

Ben Zaranko, a research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said “The Chancellor has opened the door to a less generous funding settlement for public services than the one he committed to in March” adding: “Budget cuts for other, lower priority department­s is a very real possibilit­y.”

Torsten Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation, said: “This could mean very tough times for some public services in the years ahead.”

Whitehall department­s have also been asked to identify ways to reprioriti­se spending and deliver savings by cutting quango budgets, and conducting headcount reviews. Mr Sunak said in his letter to ministers: “We expect significan­t reductions in all department­s’ communicat­ion teams”. Department­s will also need to identify where government buildings can be “better managed or sold” to raise funds.

Each Secretary of State will also be required to propose plans for relocating department offices and quangos outside London.

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