Unfunded pay award equivalent to £1.8m cut to schools says council
The cost of a new national pay award for teachers can only be met by cutting services elsewhere in schools unless money is made available by Welsh Government, says the Vale of Glamorgan Council Cabinet Member for Learning and Skills, Cllr Bob Penrose.
Funding the increased cost of thousands of teaching positions in the Vale is just one of a number of difficult decisions that the Council is faced with as it begins the process of setting its budget for 2019/20.
Cllr Penrose said: “In July UK Government announced a 3.5% rise in teachers’ pay which would cover England and Wales. This was followed by the announcement of a 5% increase in employers’ contribution to teachers’ pensions. What was lacking was an explanation of how this would be paid for.
“Teachers in the Vale of Glamorgan do first class work, something that was clear to all when the Vale recorded some of the best exam results in the country this summer. There is no question that they deserve fair pay for their efforts but forcing schools to find pay increases from budgets that are already stretched to breaking point is to in effect cut their funding even further.
Cllr John Thomas, Leader of the Council, said: “The financial position of all local authorities in Wales is now dire. In the Vale we have a track record of exceptionally prudent financial management. Despite this a decade of cuts leaves us facing a budget shortfall that simply cannot be met without looking at the services we provide.”
The comments follow a warning from the Association of Directors of Education in Wales (ADEW) of the acute pressures faced by schools, and that governing bodies will be forced to cut teaching jobs and schools’ budgets on a huge scale if increases in teachers’ pay and pensions aren’t fully funded by UK Government.
Chair of the Association of Directors of Education in Wales (ADEW), Aled Evans said:
“Councils have so far managed to give a degree of protection to schools’ budgets from the huge cuts that have decimated other valued services to the bone. However, with schools having to shoulder growing financial pressures, councils will have little recourse but to
make extremely tough decisions which will inevitably impact on how education is delivered
“Teachers are integral to help pupils reach their full potential in our schools, and they deserve to be rewarded for the incredibly valuable role that they play in our communities.
But it is clear that the £23m which has been allocated by UK Government is nowhere near enough to cover the teachers’ pay award and we urge them to follow their own Statement
of Funding policy, which requires UK Government to fully fund any financial implications of
its own policy changes.”
“Our schools are now feeling the strain of ongoing harsh budget cuts. In the wake of the Westminster Budget, it is expected that local government will receive a possible £58m in consequentials. To avert a potential disaster in Welsh schools, it is imperative that education
is prioritised when this funding comes down the M4 to the Welsh Treasury.”
A report setting out the Council’s Initial Revenue Budget proposals will be considered by its Cabinet on 19 November. The report states there is likely to be a funding gap of approximately £10.5 million in the next financial year.
A public consultation on proposals to address this will begin before the end of the year.