Osborne ditches regional pay plans
05 December 2012
George Osborne has ended months of uncertainty for public servants by revealing that controversial plans to impose regional public sector pay settlements have been abandoned.
The Chancellor's brief announcement on the scrapping of plans to introduce regional pay for much of the public sector has been widely welcomed by trade unions.
George Osborne told MPs in his Autumn Statement that he was acting on advice from national pay review bodies to retain national pay bargaining for most arms of the public sector, but that teachers will face some form of performance-related pay instead.
He said: "We commit to implement these reports. This means continuing with national pay arrangements in the NHS and prison service, and we will not make changes to the civil service arrangements either.
"But the School Teachers' Review Body does recommend much greater freedom to individual schools to set pay in line with performance."
Unite's head of health, Rachael Maskell, welcomed the announcement. She said: "George Osborne recognised in his Autumn Statement that the plans for regional pay in the NHS were unworkable and unfair, and would do nothing to improve patient services."
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber also approved of the decision to ditch the "deeply unfair" regional pay policy for the majority of public servants, but warned that teachers would become "guinea pigs" under the performance-related pay proposals.
He said: "It's good to see that the government has seen sense and in the face of huge opposition – from its own backbench MPs, patients, public sector workers, unions and academics – been forced to abandon any plans for localised pay for nurses, paramedics, prison officers and civil servants. Postcode pay would have been impractical, costly, divisive and deeply unfair.
"But unfortunately we've not seen a complete u-turn, and now teachers are to be singled out, selected to become the guinea pigs in the Chancellor's ill-advised public sector pay experiment."
He added: "This kind of individualised pay will lead to division within staff rooms as teacher is set against teacher. Parents and pupils will suffer too as valuable time and resources are wasted on this divisive approach."
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "With the profession under such continual attack and criticism, the mandatory national pay scales are one of the few things that have kept the profession attractive. Removing incremental progression and linking pay ever closer to appraisal will anger teachers.
"Linking teachers' pay with appraisal will undermine any confidence teachers had in appraisal. It will not enhance performance.
"Individualised pay will lead to unfairness and injustice. Our members will not see this as anything other than a further attack on their pay and conditions."