It had to happen: the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, in reality an Astroturf lobby group that represents fewer than one-tenth of one per cent of UK taxpayers and declines to tell who funds its activities, going after one group of workers too many in their efforts to demonise Government. And so it has come to pass, as the TPA has decided to go after the teaching profession in an effort to impoverish them a little.
You think I jest? The TPA’s Twitter feed spelled it out: “Check out our new analysis of teachers' pay. The average teacher earns over £38,000 a year, much more than the UK average. It's not fair for them to receive bigger pay increases than those taxpayers who will be footing the bill for their salaries”. Note the “bigger pay increases” claim.
So the TPA embarks on its usual schtick: isolating one group of workers and trying their best to make them The Bad Guys, thus hoping to set other workers against them. That they have picked on the teaching profession is no surprise: teachers are thought more likely not to vote as the TPA would wish them to, and worse than that, they are likely to inform opinion among parents and other workers.
Among the methods used to demonise teachers is “the cost of increasing the salary of teachers would be borne by taxpayers in the private sector”, which is routinely dishonest: all taxpayers, whatever sector they are in, contribute to teachers’ remuneration.
But the main thrust of the TPA attack is to claim that teachers are getting above average salary increases for nothing. “Each teacher is on a pay scale with various points. As a teacher moves up the scale onto a higher point, their salary increases. All eligible teachers in England and Wales are entitled to progress to the next point on the pay scale each year, subject to their annual performance appraisal. Between 2014-15 and 2015-16, there was a rise of 3.9 per cent and between 2015-16 and 2016-17 there was an increase of 4.6 per cent” they tell. So let’s consider that claim, shall we?
One, the TPA is attacking performance related pay, which puts them in an interesting position. Two, being “entitled to progress” is not an automatic increase. Three, as the DfE document the TPA cites emphasises, “Combining the progression and composition effects gives the total average salary change”. In other words, it’s not that simple. And four, the total salary change for 2015-16 is 1.2%, and for 2016-17 it is 1.6%.
The TPA dismisses those figures by claiming that, although they “demonstrate that the average salary for teachers increased between 2015-16 and 2016-17, it does not give the complete picture. This is because it fails to take into consideration the progression effect”.
But, as the DfE document shows, it does take the progression effect into account (the negative “composition effect” reflects those leaving the profession having earned more than those joining it). In other words, the TPA is seriously misleading its audience.
Teachers earn more than manual workers for rather obvious reasons. They do a job that many of us would be unwilling, and indeed unable, to perform. That they are being attacked by a group of non-job holders who contribute nothing to the UK’s economy tells you all you need to know about the TPA. They are an absolute shower.