Commenting on the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Spending Review, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“The Chancellor said he wants stronger public services but has delivered a body blow to staff in our schools and colleges.
“Education workers are key workers who have kept the country going during the pandemic, but pay cuts are their only reward from this Government.
"Teachers and support staff are working in schools and colleges without PPE, without social distancing and without adequate cleaning. Teachers are teaching their normal timetable and then preparing remote learning for pupils isolating at home. They are supporting pupils who are anxious and stressed because of the increased challenges Covid is bringing to their families.
"It is not enough for Government ministers to thank teachers for their vital contribution during Covid. Such sentiments ring hollow when they are then subject to a pay freeze which follows previous pay freezes and years of below-inflation pay increases which have eaten into the real value of their pay since 2010. Support staff face the prospect of yet more below-inflation pay increases. These pay cuts will hit education workers just as inflation is expected to pick up in late 2021.
"Today’s announcement will negate all the Government’s attempts to keep teachers in the profession. It will make recruitment and retention problems even worse to the detriment of our young people, their parents and the economy.
“This attempt to divide and rule makes no economic sense. The Government should be acting to support pay for all workers at this difficult time. Cutting the pay of teachers and other public sector workers will reduce spending power in the economy. It will reduce the amount they spend on sectors already in crisis such as retail and hospitality, so attacks on public sector pay are attacks on private sector workers too.
“While it is welcome that the Chancellor has not cut back the planned spending on schools as some feared, this spending increase is not enough to complete the job of restoring previous cuts and includes nothing for the extra costs of Covid-19 which schools are currently facing.
“True levelling up means investing more in education and other public services, not levelling down by further attacks on pay. The Government is breaking its promises to increase teacher pay, but the recruitment and retention problems that gave rise to those promises have not gone away. At a time when staff in education have contributed so much to the pandemic response, this attack on education staff is neither fair nor economically defensible.”
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