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HomeBreaking NewsTeaching union accused of using 'biased' inflation measure ahead of strikes

Teaching union accused of using ‘biased’ inflation measure ahead of strikes

'Quick read' news summary

A teaching union has been accused of using an “upwardly biased” index to inflate claims about real-term pay cuts faced by the profession. 

The National Education Union, which is preparing to cause chaos for families in England and Wales with seven days of strikes, has said that experienced teachers have faced 23 per cent pay cuts since 2010, because pay increases have failed to keep up with inflation.

However, economists questioned the union’s calculation, which uses the Retail Price Index to compare actual changes in salaries with inflation. The index has been described as a “very poor measure of general inflation” by the Office for National Statistics.

Luke Sibieta, a research fellow at the Institute for Fiscal Studies said: “They are using a measure of inflation that is known to be upwardly biased.”

He said the Consumer Price Index, which the ONS recommends using over the RPI, was more appropriate. He calculated using CPI that experienced teachers’ salaries have fallen by 13 per cent in real-terms since 2010.

Across the pay scale, he found that teachers have seen an average decline in salaries of 11 per cent between 2010 and 2022. 

Jill Leyland, of the Royal Statistical Society, said: “The RPI does overestimate inflation and it certainly has done since 2010.”

However, she said that the CPI wasn’t perfect either, because it excludes potentially significant costs such as mortgage interest payments.

The dispute comes as union leaders met with Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary, on Wednesday, to discuss their pay demands ahead of looming industrial action.

Teaching unions are demanding above-inflation pay rises for the current financial year, when experienced teachers’ salaries rose by five per cent and starting salaries for new teachers were increased by 8.9 per cent. 

Ms Keegan

A teaching union has been accused of using an “upwardly biased” index to inflate claims about real-term pay cuts faced by the profession. The index has been described as a “very poor measure of general inflation” by the Office for National Statistics. Teaching unions are demanding above-inflation pay rises for the current financial year, when experienced teachers’ salaries rose by five per cent and starting salaries for new teachers were increased by 8.9 per cent.

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