Commenting on the Labour leader’s speech on ‘securing the economy’, Kevin Courtney, joint general ecretary of the National Education Union, said:   

"Keir Starmer is right to call out the Government on key worker pay.  A pay freeze is no way to reward education staff for the immense contribution they have made to the country's response to the pandemic. 

"The Government has told the School Teachers' Review Body that education staff have made a 'huge contribution' during the pandemic and immediately followed it with an instruction not to recommend a pay increase.  It has also suggested that support staff pay should be frozen other than for lower paid staff. 

"The NEU calls on the Government to drop this plan and ensure that education staff receive the pay increase they deserve. 

"After such a challenging year, with a labour market crisis pushing child poverty up fast, it is just wrong to freeze pay and stop the temporary uplift in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit. We are not out of the woods yet. The Chancellor must commit to doing what is right for public sector workers and for families facing hardship. 

"The Government also needs an urgent rethink on supporting working parents of school-age children, those shielding or unable to work from home, and those like supply staff who cannot work and are excluded from furlough. As Labour suggests, employers should be enabled and encouraged to support those who have to take care of their children.  The Government should also review the whole system of support and ensure there are not excluded groups."