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Staff 'will need catch-up pay'

The Government will be forced to give teachers a "catch-up" pay award before the next election after failing to fund a real increase in this week's budget, say local government analysts.

A 3.5 per cent rise in average national wages is due this financial year and 4.5 per cent next year, according to financial statements released by the Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke.

Chris Trinder, of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), said the 2.2 per cent increase in funding for local authorities next year would fail to deliver an inflation-proof increase for teachers let alone match that of other workers.

"If they hold pay down, they will be forced to fork out more in the election year [likely to be 1997] to bring it back in line." The School Teachers Review Body (STRB) would be certain to reflect the average pay increases in its recommendations, he said.

Mike Walker of the Local Government Management Board, which advises local authorities on pay issues, also predicted a catch up in funding. But because teachers' pay was already at its highest level in 15 years compared with other professions, some money would go to ease the burden on councils rather than on teachers, he said.

Alan Parker of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities believes the 2.2 per cent rise in council grants translated into a spending rise of only 1.2 per cent because many dug into reserves last year. He said grants should rise by 10 per cent to allow education to catch up and avoid pay rises at the expense of job losses and increased class sizes.

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said improved exam results showed education productivity was increasing and the government should reflect that in teachers' pay if it followed its own policies.

The general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Peter Smith, said it was absurd to expect schools to "plunder" surpluses to meet pay rises.

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