Six million could lose out under regional pay

Written by: HTU | Published:

Teachers outside of the south east of England could lose out if new proposals to scrap the national pay and conditions framework go ahead.

Teachers outside of the south east of England could lose out if new proposals to scrap the national pay and conditions framework go ahead.

The government wants to end what it calls regional pay discrepancies where public sector workers in regions outside the south east of England are paid more than private sector employees.

In his Budget last week (Wednesday, March 21), chancellor George Osborne announced that he is to investigate making “public sector pay more responsive to local pay rates" by scrapping the national framework so that public sector pay more closely matches the local private sector.

The move would mean that as many as six million teachers, nurses and other civil servants face reductions to their pay in the coming years.

In his Budget speech, Mr Osborne said: “London weighting already exists across the public sector. So we should see what we can do to make our public services more responsive, and help our private sector to grow and create jobs in all parts of the country. We've asked the independent pay review bodies to look at the issue."

There is an estimated pay premium of around eight per cent for those working in the public sector compared with similar jobs in the private sector.

The biggest pay gap between the private and public sectors is 18 per cent in Wales, followed by 13.4 per cent in Yorkshire/Humber and also Scotland. The East of England stands at 13 per cent, Northern Ireland at 12.3 per cent and the North East at 11.7 per cent. The South East by comparison has just a 0.5 per cent gap and London stands at 4.6 per cent.

In his evidence to the pay review bodies including the School Teachers' Review Body, Mr Osborne said: “The existence of pay premia suggests that the public sector pays more than is necessary to recruit, retain and motivate staff in some areas. This in turn limits the number of jobs that the public sector could support for any given level of spending and diverts resources away from other ways to improve the quality of public services."

The move has angered politicians in the devolved nations. In Wales, first minister Carwyn Jones said: “People work hard. Nurses work hard, police officers work hard, teachers work hard. Why should they be penalised because of where they live? We should be looking at a situation where we close the gap in income between different parts of the UK rather than make it worse."

The Northern Ireland finance minister Sammy Wilson has also said he would oppose regional variations to pay, while Scottish finance secretary John Swinney labelled the plans “totally irresponsible".

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said that the chancellor is ignoring the “inconvenient truth" that large private firms such as Tesco, Marks and Spencer's and John Lewis, have national pay frameworks.

She said: “They recognise that it makes good sense, is financially more cost-effective and underpins customer entitlement to consistent and high quality delivery of service, regardless of postcode.

“Children and young people, wherever they live, are entitled to be taught by teachers who have pay which recognises and rewards them as highly skilled professionals and conditions of service which support them in working effectively to raise standards.

“The arrangements for teachers' pay already provide considerable scope for local flexibility within a national framework, giving schools the opportunity to respond to local labour market circumstances and needs."

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