Third of Scottish colleges have to find up to £1m for staff pay deals

Scotland's colleges will have to look within their existing budgets to fund pay deals agreed with teaching and support staff

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More than a third of Scotland’s colleges face having to find up to £1 million each from their existing budgets to fund pay deals agreed with teaching and support staff, a Tes Scotland investigation has revealed.

The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) announced last month that it would give colleges an extra £2 million to ensure they could meet the costs of a pay agreement for lecturers.

However, it has emerged that only 15 of the 26 SFC-funded colleges in Scotland will benefit from an initial £1.5 million instalment to help them fund the deals up to July 2018.

The remaining £500,000 has not yet been allocated. Decisions will be made following “further discussions with Colleges Scotland and individual colleges”, according to an SFC circular published this week.

Colleges Scotland estimated that the payment to lecturing staff, agreed by the National Joint Negotiating Committee, will cost about £6.6 million, of which £1.8 million is due at the end of this month.

The SFC said in its funding allocation for 2017-18 that there had been an uplift of £10.2 million in teaching grants for colleges, £8.2 million of which was to support pay and “other general pressures”.

Speaking anonymously, one college leader told Tes Scotland that, given all of the pressures faced by colleges – from the apprenticeship levy to new procured contracts – it was “disappointing” that all the extra cash provided by the funding council to alleviate these pressures had to be spent on pay for teaching staff.

The leader said: “The cake for colleges has a bigger slice, but for just one section of staff.”

But EIS teaching union general secretary Larry Flanagan said colleges had received sufficient funding.

Mr Flanagan said: “Both the Scottish government and Colleges Scotland said during the [pay] dispute that the funding for the pay harmonisation had been agreed and provided – ‘in the bank’ was the phrase used.

"Since then, additional money has been found to assist those colleges that were pleading special difficulties and this additional money was to assist them in meeting the agreement that Colleges Scotland has now signed up to twice. So the money is there and we expect colleges to deliver.”

It has also been revealed this week that there will be no additional money to help colleges fund the deal with support staff, which will see every member of staff receive an extra £425 a year if it is ratified.

The deal will cost the sector an estimated £2.3 million annually, according to support-staff union Unison. 

Excluded from funding

A Tes Scotland analysis reveals the estimated costs facing colleges over the next 12 months, taking into account the two pay deals. For example, Edinburgh College faces a £256,997 increase in its support-staff pay bill. Combined with the pay increase for lecturers, the extra costs amount to about £1 million.

Dundee and Angus College has also been excluded from the SFC’s £1.5 million funding. It will pay support staff an additional £156,145 a year, according to Tes Scotland’s analysis, leading to a combined cost from the two deals of £541,315 this year.

Meanwhile, at Forth Valley College, the cost is about £535,274.

Colleges will be expected to fund these cost increases from their grant allocations.

This is an edited version of an article in the 14 July edition of Tes Scotland. Subscribers can read the full story here. To subscribe, click here. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here. Your new-look Tes magazine is available at all good newsagents.

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