College staff should be given a 2.25 per cent pay rise next year, the Association for Colleges has recommended.
This is the highest pay recommendation since 2014, but well below the call from unions for a 10 per cent rise.
The joint trade unions – University and College Union, National Education Union, Unison, Unite and GMB – have rejected the offer, calling it “insulting”.
AoC, which negotiates with unions representing staff on behalf of college, said it recognises that a 2.25 per cent salary increase is not sufficient to address the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.
But the association said it could not recommend a higher rate for 2022/23 due to the “enormous funding pressures” facing colleges amid surging inflation.
The AoC and the unions are set to reconvene in June to continue talks.
‘Colleges want to pay their staff more’
AoC chief executive David Hughes wrote to education secretary Nadhim Zahawi earlier this week to plead for emergency funding so that colleges can increase their pay offer.
After making a 2.25 per cent pay recommendation, Hughes said: “Colleges want to pay their staff more, and they absolutely would if they could, but it is clear from discussions last week that they are experiencing enormous challenges dealing with inflation, and particularly spiralling energy prices, as well as increases in national insurance and pension contributions and other costs.
“The impact of this is that pay – which has lagged for many years behind schools and industry – is now resulting in major difficulties in recruiting and retaining the people needed to even maintain delivery, let alone grow the offer.”
He added: “Colleges are reeling from a decade of cuts and are now being hit by soaring inflation which has eaten away at any recent uptick in funding.”
The gap between school and college teachers currently stands at around £9,000.
Last year’s spending review announced that the DfE will be investing an extra £1.6 billion in 16-to-19 education and training by 2024/25, compared with the 2021/22 financial year. This includes an up-front cash boost which will see the rate of funding per student boosted by over 8 per cent in 2022/23.
Hughes said these funding decisions for 2022/23 assume 2 per cent inflation for 16-18 courses and 0 per cent for everything else (adult education, apprenticeships and higher education) which is some way off the current 9 per cent inflation.
But after receiving this latest pay offer, the joint unions said: “The employer body has chosen not to use significant increases in core central government 16 – 19 funding to invest in college staff, despite unions campaigning alongside AoC to secure it.
“The unions have unequivocally rejected the offer from AoC and informed the employer body that they plan to move to ballot.
“AoC have been encouraged to return with a much improved offer to ensure college staff are not forced to take industrial action this Autumn term. The unions agree that they will continue to engage in negotiations while making plans for action.”
Gerry McDonald, chief executive of New City College, who leads discussions on behalf of colleges, said: “We fully recognise the financial difficulties faced by staff across the sector alongside the funding crisis of the sector itself.
“I am pleased that both sides have agreed to continue face to face talks in June to build upon the offer. We have also made a commitment to strengthen recommendations regarding the Living Wage and to workload.”