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Autumn Statement: teachers face more misery over pay

Teachers face at least four more years of misery when it comes to their pay packets after George Osborne announced yet more restraint in public sector salaries today.

Giving his Autumn Statement to the Commons today, the chancellor spelt out his plans for the economy, which gave no assurances to protect the Department for Education’s spending and spelt out plans to limit public sector pay rises.

The profession has already endured four years of pay freezes and marginal 1 per cent salary increases since the coalition came to power, and today’s announcement looks equally bleak.

In his speech, Mr Osborne said: “Our control of public sector pay these past four years has delivered £12 billion of savings. By continuing to restrain public sector pay we expect to deliver commensurate savings in the next Parliament until we have dealt with the deficit.”

Treasury documents go further, stating that the government will need to “continue to reform, and take tough decisions on, public sector pay while it continues to reduce the current budget deficit until 2017-18”.

The news was condemned by teachers’ leaders who said the workforce had already suffered its fair share of the burden.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT claimed teachers had been dealt with a 15 per cent cut in their pay packets in real terms.

“Now teachers and other public service workers face pay restraint to the end of the decade, representing even deeper cuts to pay to those who work day in day out to deliver essential services,” she said.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of heads’ union the NAHT, added that the pressures on pay were having a knock on effect on teacher recruitment.

“We are really starting to see the effect of that policy on recruitment. It’s insidious in that when people come to consider teaching, they see that teacher salaries are becoming less and less competitive and we know you can’t raise standards without attracting the best people into teaching.”

Mr Hobby also spoke of his concerns around the lack of any commitment to protect school spending.

When coming to power back in 2010, Mr Osborne ringfenced the budgets of the NHS, the Department for Education and overseas aid but he could only commit to additional spending to health this time round.

“I’m worried that the government might be preparing the ground to water down its policy of protecting education budgets,” Mr Hobby said.

“If you look at the various calculations, they have only made half of the savings required to meet their commitments to cut the deficit,” he added. “Once you’ve protected the NHS, and you take into account the lower than expected tax receipts [the Treasury has taken], where else are they going to look to save money?”

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