HC Deb 20 January 2000 vol 342 cc969-71
11. Mr. Colin Breed (South-East Cornwall)

If he will make a statement on the funding arrangements for financing performance-related pay for teachers. [103685]

The Minister for School Standards (Ms Estelle Morris)

For an initial period starting in September 2000, we will establish a special grant to target resources for the performance threshold additional to, and separate from, schools' delegated budgets. Schools will be able to draw additional funds from the grant via their local education authority for each teacher who is promoted to the upper pay spine. There will be no quota on threshold successes.

Mr. Breed

Does the Minister accept that, after two years, ring-fenced funding will disappear and schools will be required to meet those threshold payments from their own hard-pressed budgets? Does that not amount yet again to another deferred pay scheme for our hard-pressed teachers?

Ms Morris

The hon. Gentleman is rather ungenerous. He talks about hard-pressed budgets, but I have just made it clear that we have held money back centrally to fund teachers who go through the threshold, that there will be no quota and that that money will be paid.

We have made it clear that we want to ring-fence the money for two years. That covers the period of the current comprehensive spending review. We will want to learn from what has happened, but there is another tension that the hon. Gentleman must recognise: the wish of heads to control their budget. I think that there is agreement across the political parties that local management of schools has been a good initiative. We do not want to damage that. I hope that, over the next two years, we will get the balance right between giving assurance to heads that LMS will stay and to the teaching profession that extra money is there.

The key message is that the money is there. It is ring-fenced for the next two years. As ever, we will review the position and make announcements on how the scheme will be funded after that.

Ms Joan Ryan (Enfield, North)

Last week, I met secondary head teachers at schools in Enfield, North, and a more committed, positive and enthusiastic group one could not wish to meet. They are doing their very best for secondary school pupils in my constituency. They raised the issue of financial resources to support implementation of performance-related pay arrangements. I should like to clarify whether they will be able to use available financial resources to pay for supply cover while they are going through the appraisal process.

Ms Morris

I add my thanks to those that my hon. Friend has already given to secondary school teachers in Enfield, North. She was kind enough to update me on that meeting, and I am very appreciative of all the work that those teachers do. I understand their scepticism. Under the previous Government, they spent 18 years being asked to implement initiatives, but without a penny to support that implementation. I think that that history is why they are still so sceptical about initiatives.

I assure my hon. Friend, however, that the Government have funded the Green Paper initiatives, and all our other initiatives, including training. We have ensured that every school is able to access those opportunities without detriment to the pupils whom they teach.

Mr. Theresa May (Maidenhead)

I listened very carefully to the Minister's answer to the original question on this topic. Performance-related pay for teachers, however, is yet another example of the Government saying one thing but doing another. The Minister talks about the provision of central funds, but the reality—as she herself said in answer to the original question—is that that money is being held back centrally and top-sliced from money provided to local authorities to provide the £150 million required this year to meet pay increases for teachers going through the threshold, despite the fact that Ministers promised that all funding for the scheme would be provided centrally, from the £1 billion that was being allocated.

Will the Minister confirm that that money has been top-sliced from local authorities' budgets—so that, overall, they are receiving less than they had expected—to fund pay increases that the Government have promised to fund centrally? She said that £1 billion would be allocated centrally, and that £150 million is being spent on teachers' pay increases, but how much of that £1 billion is being spent on administering the scheme?

Ms Morris

The hon. Lady has a vivid imagination. The reality is that, even if we exclude the money for threshold payments, the SSA increase to local authorities is 5.4 per cent. If we include the money that will go to local authorities and schools as part of the threshold payment, the increase would come to 6.1 per cent. If she wants an argument about increases of 5.4 and 6.1 per cent., I will have it. But let us be clear: under the previous Government, in not one year did SSA increases anywhere near enough to touch either of those increases.The truth is that, after the announcement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 27 November, funding to authorities as part of the SSA increased by £154 million.

If the hon. Lady adds all the increases together, they total 8.1 per cent., which is a record to be proud of. The increases will deliver higher standards, reform the teaching profession and, for the very first time, ensure that we have in place a mechanism for rewarding our best teachers. That is what we need.

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