Date laid: re-laid on 12 September replacing original laid on 12 July
Parliamentary procedure: affirmative
1.This instrument is a revised version of the instrument considered by this Committee in September, but its policy content has not changed. Our 39th Report drew the special attention of the House to it on the ground of public policy interest and cast some doubt on the efficacy of the provisions designed to improve the current 57% payment compliance rate of Non-Resident Parents which has been roughly static for two years. We note that the Department for Work and Pensions has improved its Explanatory Memorandum in the light of our critical comments. However, the Department has also clarified that the definition of “asset” does not include high value items like a yacht or Rolls Royce “due to the complexity of tracing ownership of such an asset and determining its true value … [which] is often set by the market at the time of sale … [and] any value ascribed to these types of asset is more likely to be open to dispute.” This would seem to confirm our concern that the Non-Resident Parent can find ways of avoiding payment by buying goods with their cash assets and reinforces our view that the new formula for calculating income may make little actual difference. We note that the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee is also making inquiries along similar lines.
Date laid: 14 September 2018
Parliamentary procedure: negative
The draft Order introduces new pay and allowance ranges for school teachers, following consultation on the 28th Report from the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB). The Government have accepted the STRB’s recommendation for a 3.5% uplift to the minima and maxima of the main and unqualified pay ranges, while agreeing to uplift the minima and maxima of the upper and the leading practitioner pay ranges and all allowances by 2%, and to uplift the minimum and maximum of the leadership pay range by 1.5%, lower increases than recommended by the STRB.
The Department for Education (DfE)’s consultation ran for six weeks from 24 July to 3 September 2018. Several consultees expressed concerns about this timing, arguing that it did not give schools adequate time to prepare. Completion of this year’s pay review process was complicated by the need for coordination across Government of decisions on pay awards in the light of the lifting of the public sector pay cap. However, the scheduling of the formal consultation to coincide with school summer holidays will have presented the interested parties with significant difficulties in formulating and presenting their views. We consider that DfE’s handling of the consultation prioritised its own requirements over the needs of the parties consulted. We find the Department’s approach all the more disappointing in the light of the criticism which we made of its handling of consultation on the 27th Report from the STRB in 2017.
We draw this Order to the special attention of the House on the ground that there appear to be inadequacies in the consultation process which relates to the instrument.
2.On an annual basis, the Secretary of State for the Department for Education (DfE) formally refers matters concerning the remuneration and/or other conditions of employment of school teachers to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), which then reports on those matters. DfE and the national representatives of teachers and teacher employers have the opportunity to submit evidence before the report is finalised, and then published by DfE. As is explained in DfE’s Explanatory Memorandum (EM) to this Order, the Secretary of State determines how and to what extent the recommendations in the report should be implemented, and then conducts a statutory consultation on the draft Order introducing new pay and allowance ranges before it is made.
3.DfE says that, in December 2017, the Secretary of State asked the STRB to consider application of the 2018 pay award for teachers, within the context of the new flexible approach to public sector pay, following the Government’s decision in September 2017 to end the 1% public sector pay cap. DfE has told us that it received the STRB report on 18 May. By comparison with previous years, the announcement on teachers’ pay was delayed while a cross-government process looked across pay recommendations submitted to several Departments. The announcement on teachers’ pay was made on 24 July 2018, in parallel with announcements on four other groups (armed forces, police, prison officers, doctors and dentists), in a cross-government announcement on public sector pay.
4.On 24 July 2018, following submission of evidence from DfE and the representative bodies, the Government laid before Parliament the STRB’s 28th report, and a proposed response to that report. The STRB recommended a 3.5% uplift to the minima and maxima of all pay and allowance ranges in the national pay framework, not least in order to address growing difficulties in the recruitment and retention of teachers. However, in launching a consultation on the report, the Government made it clear that, for reasons of affordability, it did not agree with the recommendation of a 3.5% uplift across the board. DfE says in the EM that, following consultation, the Secretary of State has accepted the STRB’s recommendation for a 3.5% uplift to the minima and maxima of the main and unqualified pay ranges, while agreeing to uplift the minima and maxima of the upper and the leading practitioner pay ranges and all allowances by 2%, and to uplift the minimum and maximum of the leadership pay range by 1.5%.
5.In section 10 of the EM, DfE gives a good deal of information about the consultation process, which ran for six weeks from 24 July to 3 September 2018. DfE sets out the contact with, and representations from the teaching unions, including the Association of School and College Leaders, the National Education Union, Voice, the National Association of Headteachers, and the National Association of Teachers of Wales, as well as from the National Employers’ Organisation for School Teachers, the National Governors Association, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers and the Welsh Government. DfE notes that almost all consultees disagreed with the Government’s decision not to implement all the STRB’s recommendations, and that a number of them suggested that adequate reasoning had not been provided for that decision. DfE also acknowledges that several consultees expressed concerns about the timing of publication of the STRB’s report and the Government’s proposed response, arguing that it did not give schools adequate time to prepare.
6.DfE reiterates its explanation for the decisions taken after consultation, namely, that the only way to ensure the affordability of the pay award to the public purse is through lower uplifts to some pay ranges than was recommended by the STRB. On timing, DfE states that this was a result of the cross-government process that looked at pay recommendations submitted to Departments, in the light of the ending of the 1% cap. It adds that DfE officials are currently working with HM Treasury to ensure the timetable next year allows for earlier publication of the response.
7.We remind the House that in September 2017 we drew the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Order 2017 (SI 2017/811) to its attention, commenting that DfE consulted on that Order over only three weeks in July 2017, and that the timing of the consultation attracted widespread criticism from respondents. We said that we considered it unacceptable to allow so short a period for a consultation exercise at a time of year when respondents faced so many other pressures.
8.We understand that the completion of this year’s pay review process has been complicated by the need for coordination across Government of decisions on pay awards in the light of the lifting of the public sector pay cap. However, we have no doubt either that the scheduling of the formal consultation to coincide with school summer holidays will have presented the interested parties with significant difficulties in formulating and presenting their views. DfE has held out the prospect of bringing next year’s process forward; as regards this year, while taking account of the special circumstances, we nonetheless consider that the Department’s handling of the formal consultation prioritised its own requirements over the needs of the parties consulted. We find the Department’s approach all the more disappointing in the light of our criticism of its handling of consultation in 2017.
1 , Session 2017–19 (HL Paper 183)
2 See HLWS899:
3 Details of the five pay ranges for teachers can be seen at:
4 In our of this Session (HL Paper 20).