News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Government must fund teacher pay rises or risk cutting school budgets, warns Flintshire Council leader

Newly announced pay rises for teachers in Wales must be fully funded or risk placing a burden on school budgets, a leading politician in Flintshire has warned.

The Welsh Government today revealed proposals to boost pay for newly qualified school teachers by five per cent from September, as well as an increase of 2.75 per cent for all other teachers.

Minister for education, Kirsty Williams, said she hoped it would attract more people into the profession.

However, details of where the financial backing will come from have yet to be disclosed.

Flintshire Council leader Ian Roberts, who is a former teacher, said while the pay rise was to be welcomed, he believed all staff should receive the same amount.

The Labour councillor added that unless the government provides money to fund it, it could place a strain on school budgets and other frontline services, as the local authority faces a shortfall approaching £13.5m in the next financial year.

Cllr Roberts said: “It’s good news for teaching, but it’s not good news that people are being treated differently.

“For the council facing a budget gap of £13.5m next year, it’s particularly disappointing that there is no mention about how we are to fund the award.

“We are quite clear on this as a council that we believe that those who announced the pay award, should pay for the pay award.

“Inevitably, if this pay increase is not funded in full, it will impact on services at a school level and at a council level as well.”

He also questioned the timing of the announcement at a time when schools have just broken up for the summer holidays as it could place stress on those in senior roles.

The pay recommendations were published as part of the first report of the new Independent Welsh Pay Review Body (IWPRB).

The Welsh Government said the increases would be subject to an eight-week consultation, but concerns have also been raised by a body which represents school leaders.

Rob Williams, director of NAHT Cymru, said school budgets were already at ‘breaking point’.

He said: “The most concerning aspect to this announcement is the uncertainty about funding.
“NAHT Cymru’s evidence to the IWPRB was crystal clear; school leaders told us in no uncertain terms that all pay awards must be fully funded.

“School budgets are at breaking point already and new reforms, whilst welcome, come at a cost.

“It would be shameful, and somewhat perverse, if Wales’ schools were placed in the invidious position of facing staff redundancies in order to balance the school budget due to an unfunded teachers’ pay award.”

A Welsh Government spokesman blamed the UK Government for the uncertainty surrounding the funding.

They said: “We have started an eight-week consultation on our proposed changes to teachers pay.

“The consultation will allow key stakeholders to provide us with their feedback on the implications of our proposed changes.

“The current chaos at the heart of the UK Government means that we still do not know what our budget will be after April 2020.

“This level of uncertainty is unprecedented and completely unacceptable, and we will continue to call on the UK government to offer more clarity to devolved nations on future funding arrangements.”

By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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