Funds found

Margaret Hodge is to be congratulated on wresting a further pound;32 million for college staff pay. It may be small beer compared with the pound;500m needed to bridge the gap with school salaries. But it is new money and makes it possible to offer support staff new rewards already available to lecturers.

Arguably, this extra 1 per cent is what ministers should have given in the first place. But Ms Hodge could have skirted the issue blaming the Learning and Skills Council for short-changing colleges, or the colleges for mismanagement.

Instead, she has told The TES (see page 35) that she recognises the need to tackle recruitment problems and has pledged the cash as a precursor to bigger things from Estelle Morris in November.

Is this enough to halt the joint union strike threats? Some may pull back but it is unlikely to stop the lecturers' union Natfhe going to the wire.

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