LONDON — Prime Minister Theresa May has refused to increase wages for British teachers beyond 1%, despite huge pressure from Labour, trade unions, and senior members of her own Conservative Party.
The government announced on Tuesday that it has accepted the advice of the independent pay review body to continue to freeze teacher wage rises at 1%.
It made the decision just days after senior cabinet ministers urged May to scrap the public sector pay cap following the shock general election result of last month.
The Conservative Party surrendered its parliamentary majority despite most polls published prior to the June 8 vote indicating a comfortable Tory victory.
Last week frontbenchers including Boris Johnson, Michael Fallon, and Education Secretary Justine Greening urged May and Chancellor Philip Hammond to consider scrapping the pay cap affecting workers in Britain’s public sector, amid the feeling that British people have grown weary after nearly a decade of Tory austerity policies.
The cap was introduced by former prime minister David Cameron in 2010 and has resulted in public sector pay being frozen at one per cent rises for the last seven years.
Hammond insisted in a speech to the CBI that the government must “hold its nerve” over austerity measures, while May doubled down on the importance of tackling the deficit during Prime Minister’s Questions.
The government has this week confirmed that it has no immediate plans to scrap the pay cap for over 500,000 teachers nationwide. However, it is possible that Hammond may include a review of public sector pay in the autumn statement, which is due to be announced to the House of Commons in November.
May’s refusal to raise teacher pay “an insult”
Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said that the government “simply does not value” the work done by Britain’s teachers and accused May of having a “heart of stone”.
In a statement, the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon said:
“Giving teachers another below inflation pay-rise is frankly an insult to these incredibly hard-working and dedicated professionals. The message coming loud and clear from Theresa May’s government is that it simply does not value the profoundly important work teachers do to help our children achieve their potential.
“It is no secret that more and more teachers are being forced out of the profession they love, because they are being put under impossible pressure, while watching their pay fall in real terms. Yet ministers seem happy to ignore this mounting crisis.
“Theresa May has just shown she is tin-eared with a heart of stone.”
Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner joined the chorus of opposition to the move. She said: “While the education secretary [Justine Greening] says she has accepted the recommendations of the pay review body, they were forced to accept the arbitrary 1% pay cap. The simple fact is that teachers are still facing a real-terms pay cut.”
Nearly a quarter of teachers who have qualified since 2011 have already turned their backs on the profession, official data published over the weekend revealed. 27,500 teachers who received their training between the years of 2011 and 2015 had quit their teaching jobs by 2016.