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Suddenly there's no more money

Colleges are furious after learning that expected extra funds won't be made available. Ngaio Crequer reports.

LECTURERS and colleges are furious at receiving less money than they expected for a scheme to reward and develop good teaching.

Colleges were told that, under the Teaching Pay Initiative, they would receive pound;65 million in 20012, pound;100m in 20023 and pound;135m in 20034. One of the aims was to help reduce the gap between lecturers'

and schoolteachers' pay.

But the amounts for the last two years were only "indicative" and some colleges have received much less than they were expecting.

Colleges were given a commitment that this year they would receive at least 25 per cent more money than last, and at least 25 per cent more in 20034 than in 20023.

Barry Lovejoy, of the lecturers' union NATFHE, said many colleges would not get their 25 per cent increase. "Some colleges will be up to pound;60,000 worse off," he said.

"The Government has said colleges should be able to consolidate these payments into salaries. But how will this happen? We are being pushed from pillar to post. The Government says 'consolidate' and the colleges say they cannot."

Ivor Jones, of the Association of Colleges, confirmed that many colleges were not getting the amounts expected, including the 25 per cent increase. "Our members are surprised and disappointed at the allocations," he said.

"A lot of colleges have already planned their implementation of TPI for next year, but they have not got the money.

"Margaret Hodge, the lifelong learning minister, says this money should be consolidated into salaries, but we have not got it to give."

Elizabeth Martins, NATFHE's southern region official, said some colleges were talking of reductions of between 17 and 20 per cent. She said negotiations had taken place between colleges and staff based on the indicative figures.

"Now colleges are finding out that there are going to be clawbacks," she said. "It's absolutely horrendous."

The Department for Education and Skills has extended the initiative to more groups. It will include staff teaching FE in higher education institutions, independent specialist colleges for students with learning difficulties, and possible additional benefits for staff in sixth-form centres. NATFHE argues this is being used as the justification for the reductions.

Lecturers at the Manchester College of Arts and Technology have been balloted over industrial action because of the way TPI has been implemented.

The college said that most of its money had been used to convert temporary, hourly-paid staff onto permanent positions. Staff morale had been described as high in a recent inspection.

A spokesman for the Learning and Skills Council said some colleges had neglected to tell staff about caveats associated with the indicative allocations. These were based on provisional participation funds while the final allocations were based on actual figures.

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