Public sector pay rise will cost thousands of jobs!

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Teachers lobby the Department for Education earlier this month demanding a 5 per cent pay rise – not paid for by cuts
Teachers lobby the Department for Education earlier this month demanding a 5 per cent pay rise – not paid for by cuts

”OUT OF TOUCH’ Theresa May has left one million people ‘in limbo’, said the GMB on Tuesday, in response to the Tory announcement that public-sector workers will receive their first pay increase above 1 per cent since 2013.

The announcement was sneaked out on the last day of Parliament before summer recess – leaving more questions than answers, said the GMB.

Rehana Azam, GMB National Secretary, said: ‘One million public sector workers have been left in limbo by this cloak and dagger briefing on the last day of Parliament. This is not the way to treat dedicated public sector workers who have already suffered eight years of real terms pay cuts.

‘They haven’t even made a proper announcement – it just shows how out of touch Theresa May is. In another cynical bid to save her own skin, she is riding roughshod over the proper pay mechanisms – which should independently review public sector wages.’

Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: ‘Behind the good news headlines, the government is simply robbing Peter to pay Paul. Without extra money from the Treasury to fund these pay increases, services and jobs somewhere will have to be cut.

‘Ministers have finally recognised the damage and hardship their ill-thought-out pay policies have inflicted on public services and millions of public servants and their families. Everyone working tirelessly to deliver services to the public – in increasingly difficult circumstances thanks to the cuts that just keep on coming – needs and deserves a pay rise.

‘But just as it did for the NHS and health workers, the Treasury should have come up with the money to fund all these pay promises. Sadly these pay rises won’t be pain free for schools and police forces. Without extra resources, already beleaguered budgets will now have to be raided.’

The BMA doctors’ union said the announcement falls short of recommendations by the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ remuneration. BMA representative body chair, Dr Anthea Mowat, said: ‘It is truly astonishing that the UK government has chosen to ignore the already insufficient recommendations of its own independent pay review body and to then compound the misery that this will cause for thousands of our hard-working members and their families by refusing to backdate what will be an inadequate pay uplift.

‘Just last week the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care talked about how “heartbreaking it was to see how under-valued” NHS staff feel. Considering those words, doctors in England will rightly feel both anger and disappointment that sentiment has not been matched with action …

‘It is unacceptable that the policy of inflicting a real-terms pay cut on the majority of doctors will continue. Since 2008, doctors have experienced the largest drop in earnings of all professions subject to pay review bodies, with consultants seeing a 19 per cent fall in pay, junior doctors 21 per cent and GPs 20 per cent.

‘The effective pay uplift this year for some doctors will be as little as 0.75 per cent, which will be widely seen as derisory. At a time when the NHS faces severe shortages of doctors across all specialties, it beggars belief that the ministers have failed to recognise the contribution declining pay has had on the ability to recruit and retain doctors and the significant damage to morale.

‘Today’s announcement, coming at a time when understaffed and under-resourced hospitals and primary care services are having to manage unprecedented levels of patient demand, will only make a bad situation much worse and the BMA will be considering its next steps in response.’

Three education unions expressed a number of concerns:

• The pay award is not fully funded. The Department for Education is still expecting schools to fund 1% of the cost from severely strained budgets, and is only funding the additional expenditure above 1%. The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies recently published analysis which shows that funding per pupil in England fell by about 8% in real terms, and about 5% in Wales, between 2009-10 and 2017-18.

• It is unacceptable that pay awards for leaders and for teachers on the upper pay range will only be funded at a lower rate, and this decision flies in the face of the recommendation made by the independent School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) for an across-the-board increase on pay and allowances at the same rate. The pay award is supposed to reflect the cost-of-living and therefore paying it at different rates is unfair and demoralising – especially at a time when recruiting leaders to schools is so challenging.

• We are disappointed the Treasury has refused to fund the pay award and left it to the DfE to find the necessary funding by cutting other areas of the education budget which are also important. Our education unions believe that the Treasury has a responsibility to fund pay awards for public servants as recommended by the independent pay body.

• While the pay award is an improvement on previous years it doesn’t redress the years of pay freezes and pay caps which have eroded the value of teachers’ pay in real terms and contributed to the teacher and leader recruitment and retention crisis. Our three unions had called for a 5% across the board increase for all teachers and leaders and we will continue to press for an improved deal in future years.

• Today’s announcement has come far too late to give schools sufficient time to prepare budgets for a pay award which is supposed to be operative from September, particularly as school summer holidays have already begun.

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: ‘It is deeply unfair that the pay award for leaders and for teachers on the upper pay range will be funded at a lower rate and they will regard this decision as a kick in the teeth for their hard work.

‘It is also regrettable that the pay award is only partially funded and that the DfE has had to find that money from down the back of the departmental sofa as this will impact on other education services. This is clearly a short-term political solution driven by the refusal of the Treasury to fund the pay award and we need longer-term strategic thinking from the government as a whole.’

Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: ‘By ignoring the STRB’s advice that all teachers and school leaders need the same pay rise, they have failed to recognise and reward the critical role performed by leadership teams. This will do little to retain valued and experienced senior teachers and leaders. Our members will feel let down by the government.

‘All teachers and leaders deserve a decent pay rise after a decade of real terms cuts. The DfE appear to have finally grasped the scale of the twin crises in school funding and teacher retention. But it is disappointing that the Treasury has not listened.

‘By abdicating responsibility for funding these awards, the Treasury has forced the Department for Education to scramble for money within their own department. We will have to wait to see what cuts have to be made elsewhere to find this money but it seems like a false economy by the government.’

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: ‘Schools and parents will be dismayed that schools will have to find more than £250m from their already stretched budgets. We are concerned, too, that the DfE will be forced by the Treasury to make unacceptable cuts to other parts of its education budget.’