Labour would love to give public sector workers a 5 per cent pay rise but "cannot do that at the moment", the shadow education secretary has said.
Angela Rayner said it would "take longer than I would personally like" to reverse "damage" by the Conservative government, but stressed that her party had to be "responsible about that".
In August, education secretary Justine Greening confirmed an overall 1 per cent pay rise for teachers this year, but this month she told Tes that she accepted that the pay cap posed risks to teacher recruitment and retention, and said she wanted salaries to be "competitive".
This morning, Ms Rayner told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We're a government in waiting. The Conservatives would like you to think that we're talking about a magic money tree and promising things we can't deliver.
Labour will 'reverse damage'
"We've set out quite clearly that we would like to give – we'd love to give public sector workers a 5 per cent pay rise, but we cannot do that at the moment.
"What we've said is we will make sure that they get an inflation pay rise, which is more than what this Conservative government have done.
"We can't undo the damage that the Conservatives have done to our public sector for years and years, but what we will do is reverse some of that and start putting us on the right path.
"It'll take longer than I would personally like to see, but we have to be responsible about that and that is what Jeremy Corbyn is going to set out in his speech about responsible government, about making sure we are investing in our future and that we have a credible plan to do that."
Inflation is currently running at 2.9 per cent after hitting a one-year high earlier this month.
Earlier this month, Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said a "significant pay rise" was needed to tackle recruitment and retention crisis.
She told Tes: "I think the situation now has deteriorated to where it will take more than a rise of the rate of inflation to attract and retain the teachers we need in the profession.”