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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 16:58 GMT
Teachers' fury over London weighting
estates agents' boards
Many teachers say they cannot afford to buy homes
Teachers are demanding a higher London weighting allowance, saying the cost of living in the capital is forcing them to leave the profession.

Following the government's announcement last week of a 3.5% pay rise for teachers in England and Wales, the inner London allowance will be 3,105 and the outer London allowance will be 2,043.


The government thinks we're a pushover

Linda Taaffe
But some members of the National Union of Teachers say the allowance is an insult and, at a meeting on Wednesday, will call for a ballot for strike action.

Angry at what they regard as the union's national executive's reluctance to take action over pay, these NUT members want to force a debate on the matter.

NUT executive member for outer London Linda Taaffe said the average teacher, who had been in the profession for about five years, brought home no more than 1,500 a month.

"I have a teacher friend who is having to pay 1,000 in rent on a small house in Waltham Forest - now when you add council tax and so on, it doesn't leave a lot left," Ms Taaffe said.

Unaffordable

"For the younger teachers it poses the question 'Can I afford to live here?'.

"You can get the same level of pay up north and pay half as much for a house.

"I don't see how it can be sustainable, especially for those who have a young family. It's really distressing."

It was also unfair that teachers in outer London got less than those in inner London, she added.

The education service in London would get worse if things were left to "tick away", Ms Taaffe warned.

Recent Land Registry figures showed the average price of residential property in Greater London (based on sales between April and June 2001) was 205.831, compared to 69,358 in Greater Manchester.

Union row

The group of NUT activists is critical of the union's national executive "for not saying no" to the government.

"We're arguing for action and demanding that the national union should call for strike action," said Ms Taaffe

"The national union is afraid to open the floodgates - when it comes to the crunch, they bottle out," she claimed.

"The government thinks we're a pushover - on the surface it looks like teachers will accept any rubbish heaped upon them and won't kick up a rumpus because we're nice sort of people who look after children."

The group is due to meet in Camden Town Hall on Wednesday evening.

'Substantial package'

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: "The School Teacher's Review Body - the independent body which makes recommendations on pay - considered London allowances in its recent report and concluded that, taking all factors into account, they should be increased by 3.5%."

London allowances were also increased by 30% last year, the spokeswoman added.

"Taken together, the pay rise, the points out of the lower spine and the normal incremental progress represent one of the most substantial packages ever offered to London teachers," she said.

See also:

23 Jan 02 | Education
Teachers to get 3.5% pay rise
21 Aug 01 | Education
Teacher commutes 200 miles
02 Apr 01 | Education
Housing help for teachers
02 Feb 01 | Education
Young teachers struggle with debt
05 Jan 01 | Education
Teacher shortage is 'housing problem'
08 Aug 01 | Business
Property prices: county by county
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