Unions accept support staff pay rise of up to 10.5%

Unions tell schools to award pay rises ASAP, but unfunded rise will heap more pressure on leaders struggling to balance books

Unions tell schools to award pay rises ASAP, but unfunded rise will heap more pressure on leaders struggling to balance books

Unions have accepted a pay offer that will see thousands of support staff paid an extra £1,925 this year, Unison has confirmed

Unions have accepted a pay offer that will see school support staff, including teaching assistants, and other council workers paid an extra £1,925 this year.

The offer means a 10.5 per cent hike for the lowest-paid and just over 4 per cent for higher earners covered by the agreement.

It is the highest rise offered to local government pay negotiating body the National Joint Council (NJC) for a decade.

Unions have called on schools to implement the pay rises “as soon as possible”. Rises will also be backdated to April, meaning schools face paying out a lump sum too.

Members of Unison, GMB and Unite were consulted over a two-month period, with unions meeting on Tuesday and agreeing to accept the offer from the Local Government Association (LGA).

Unison said years of below inflation pay offers and pay freezes had seen local government workers lose more than 25 per cent from the value of their pay since 2010.

But schools are likely to struggle as a result of more unfunded pay rises for staff. The government increased its pay rise offer to senior teachers to five per cent without providing additional funding earlier this year.

Schools core funding has risen by £4 billion this year, according to the DfE. But rising costs have wiped out much of that. Leaders are already facing making cuts to staff, increasing class sizes and axing building repairs over the coming years to deal with rising costs.

A survey of 630 headteachers, published by the Association of School and College Leaders last week, revealed the “catastrophic” impact of the funding crisis on schools.

Meanwhile, Schools Week revealed last month that as many as half of all maintained schools in some areas are expected to go into financial deficit this year.

Pay offer will impact support staff at maintained and academy schools

Many non-teaching staff in maintained schools and council education departments will benefit from the increase. Employees at academy trusts which continue to follow the NJC’s ‘green book’ terms-and-conditions agreement will also be covered by the deal.

School support staff include TAs, learning assistants, technicians, administrative and auxiliary staff.

Unison’s national secretary for local government, Mike Short, welcomed the pay offer but suggested unions could ask for a higher rise next year.

“Members voted clearly to accept this pay offer, and it will come as a welcome relief to many of our members – particularly those who are lower-paid – that it has been agreed before the holiday period,” he said.

“Our immediate priority, now, is to get the money into the pay packets of workers as soon as possible, to help deal with the rapidly rising cost of living and move into the next pay round.

“We know there is much more to do, as this pay settlement is still below inflation and we will be looking to submit a pay claim for 2023 as soon as practically possible, so the employers have no excuse for delaying making an offer, next year.

“We will be expecting that offer to meet our members’ needs and address the massive pressure they are facing due to the rate of inflation.”

The one-year pay offer will be backdated to 1 April 2022 and also includes a 4 per cent increase to allowances. A one day increase to the annual leave of all employees will come into effect from 1 April 2023.

Unison said the offer meant the bottom three points on the pay scale would still fall below the Foundation Living Wage rate of £10.90.

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