Fresh cuts to schools may be unavoidable unless new money is found for a planned pay rise for teachers, the Government’s own fiscal watchdog has warned.
If no additional cash is made available to boost pay, the Office for Budget Responsibility says the cost can only be met by “squeezing non-pay spending and by reducing the workforce”.
The warning was echoed by the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), the Government’s pay review body for teachers, which said that some schools would struggle to pay any increases in salary at all.
Last year the government agreed an overall 1% pay increase for the profession, but teaching unions are demanding a 5% boost in pay, saying their pay has seen a drastic cut since 2010.
Evidence provided by the Government to the School Teachers’ Review Body backed up their claim. It showed that while real terms pay rose between 2002 and 2010, it then fell sharply.
An examination of House of Commons Library data, commissioned by Angela Rayner, the Shadow Education Secretary, has also confirmed that the average teacher is around £4,000 a year worse off in 2016 compared to 2010.
The Labour MP is calling on the Government to provide ring-fenced funding to support schools in giving staff a larger pay rise, but the Tories said Jeremy Corbyn’s party was making promises it could not keep.
Rayner, said: “Even the Conservatives have been left with no choice but to admit they have left teachers thousands of pounds worse off.
“It is no wonder they have created a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention when they are asking teachers to take real terms pay cuts year after year.
“Their promise to lifting their own cap on public sector pay is meaningless without new, ring-fenced funding to ensure that teachers, as well as support staff, can finally get a real pay rise after years of cuts.
“The next Labour Government will give our teachers the pay rise they deserve, with a fully-funded plan to end the public sector pay cap and increase wages in our schools.”
The Government has previously defended teacher pay, saying they get £37,400 on average.
That rises to £41,900 in London, it said.
Treasury Minister Robert Jenrick MP said: “Yet again, Labour are making promises they have no ability to deliver on.
“To fund this commitment Labour would go on a borrowing binge, meaning more debt, higher taxes and fewer jobs. Just like last time, it is ordinary working people who would end up paying the price.
“With 1.9 million more children at good or outstanding schools, funding for our schools is at a record high and the new funding formula gives historically underfunded schools the biggest increases. We recognise the hard work done by teachers across the country and await to hear the independent pay review body’s recommendations.”