Anger over pay freeze for teachers and police in England

Credit: PA

School leaders in England have described the confirmation of a pay freeze for teachers as a “slap in the face”, while police in the country have hit out at similar plans for officers.

In a written ministerial statement on Wednesday, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said there will be a pause to headline pay rises for the majority of public sector workforces in 2021-22.

He said the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) has recommended a pay award of £250 for all teachers earning less than £24,000.

Home Secretary Priti Patel, meanwhile, said that police officers earning more than £24,000 would be hit by the freeze. Those earning less will be given an annual rise of £250.

It comes amid backlash against a 3% pay rise for NHS staff - which below the 12.5% requested by the Royal College of Nursing.

  • 'An insult' to teachers

Mr Williamson said: “I would like to reiterate that the £250 award should be paid to all eligible teachers, whether located on a published pay point or not, and that the pause on pay will apply to headline pay uplifts only.”

Gavin Williamson made the announcement in a written statement. Credit: PA

In a report published on Wednesday, the STRB said it was asked last December for its recommendations on increases for those earning less than £24,000 per annum (or part-time equivalent).

The STRB report said: “We recognise the exceptional pressures placed on the economy and on public sector finances by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“However, we are firmly of the view that a pay pause for teachers of more than one year risks a severe negative impact on the competitive position of the teaching profession, jeopardising efforts to attract and retain the high-quality graduates necessary to deliver improved pupil outcomes."

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, the largest union for school leaders, said: “School leaders and teachers will be rightly angry that the government’s pay freeze will deliver yet another a 3-4% real terms pay cut next year, based on the Treasury’s own predictions of inflation.

“The teaching profession has long struggled to recruit and retain school leaders – NAHT’s survey evidence shows that the leadership pipeline is broken at all career stages.

“Too few experienced teachers want to step up to senior leadership positions and even fewer can be persuaded to take on the heavy responsibilities of a head teacher.

“The pandemic is creating even greater recruitment and retention challenges.”

  • Pay system for police 'not fit for purpose'

In a written ministerial statement to the Commons on Wednesday, Ms Patel said: “As set out at the Spending Review (2020), there will be a pause to headline pay rises for the majority of public sector workforces in 2021-22."

Priti Patel Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

She continued: “This is in order to ensure fairness between public and private sector wage growth, as the private sector was significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic in the form of reduced hours, suppressed earnings growth and increased redundancies, whilst the public sector was largely shielded from these effects.

“This approach will protect public sector jobs and investment in public services, prioritising the lowest paid, with those earning less than £24,000 (full-time equivalent) receiving a minimum £250 increase.

“The pause ensures we can get the public finances back onto a sustainable path after unprecedented Government spending on the response to Covid-19.”

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John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales which represents rank and file officers, said the pay system was “not fit for purpose”.

He said: “Police officers have been on the front line of this pandemic for 18 months and will now see firefighters and local government workers in England given a 1.5% increase while they receive nothing.

"This is further evidence that not all public services are treated equally by this government, and some are valued more than others.”

He said the national federation will be consulting members on how to push for changes to the system for setting police pay.

The Police Federation, that represents more than 120,000 officers from the rank of constable to chief inspector, said that officers had already suffered an 18% pay cut in real terms in the space of a decade.