Brown looks to keep lid on teachers' pay

26th January 2007 at 00:00
He fears further public-sector demands

The treasury is expected to oppose calls for an inflation-related pay rise for teachers, claiming it could damage the economy.

A two-year pay deal agreed by the Government gave teachers pay increases this year and last of only 2.5 per cent.

But the deal can be reopened if inflation, as measured by the retail price index, rises above 3.25 per cent for the year. It is sitting at 4.4 per cent so it is on track to do so. This is the highest level since the recession of the early 1990s.

The School Teachers' Review Body, which advises ministers on pay, has agreed to pass on to government the National Union of Teachers' request for more money.

The Treasury does not make submissions to the review body. However, Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, has signalled that he does not want public sector pay rises above 2 per cent - and any additional pay rise would have to be agreed by him.

The Treasury fears that giving teachers more could lead to rises for other public sector workers - including nurses, armed forces, prison officers and local government workers - which could cause inflation to spiral upwards.

Teachers are the only public servants whose pay deal explicitly provides that it may be revisited if inflation surges.

The country's 170,000 police officers have the green light for a 3 per cent rise, despite the Chancellor's demands.

Jim Knight, the schools minister, said teachers' pay had to be considered by the Treasury as part of the bigger picture.

"The Chancellor gives a clear lead on these things," he told The TES. "If there's a widespread move across the whole public sector to reopen everything then you end up in a wage-price inflation spiral."

The School Teachers' Review Body is also expected to look at the pay of heads and other school leaders, even though a government-commissioned report last week failed to deliver on unions' pleas to overhaul leaders'

pay.

The Government will next week announce its response to School Teachers'

Review Body advice of widespread support for incentive payments for biology and general science teachers to retrain as physics and chemistry teachers.

The review body is also believed to recommend that part-time teachers be paid commensurate with full-timers, at an estimated public cost of up to Pounds 46million. Part-time teachers are predominantly women, fitting in their teaching around raising a family, and their poor level of pay has been criticised as discriminatory.

An extra 1 per cent pay rise right across the public sector would cost the Government pound;1.26 billion a year. A 2 per cent rise would cost more than pound;2.52 billion.

You'll pay more for...

Potatoes: 8.9%

Books and newspapers: 6.6%

Council tax and rates: 4.7%

UK holidays: 4.6%

Beer at the pub: 3.8%

Rail fares: 3.6%

Takeaways and snacks: 3.2%

Rent: 3.0%

...and less for

footwear: 0.7%

oil and other fuels: 2.2%

chilled or frozen chicken: 2.5%

women's clothes: 3.4%

audio-visual goods: 9.6%

Source - Retail Price Index, Office of National Statistics

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