Union says £7 rise will not halt London exodus

July 23, 2004

Three-quarters of the capital's universities are having problems recruiting and retaining staff, a report leaked to The Times Higher reveals. The findings come as unions expressed anger at an offer from employers to increase the London cost-of-living allowance for academics by £7 a month.

The report, by Incomes Data Services, finds that only four of London higher education institutions (15 per cent) said that they had no problems recruiting and retaining staff. More than half, 16, said that they were experiencing general difficulties, with a further seven reporting "a few" problems in specific areas.

The report says the worst problems are in key subjects where there is competition for staff outside the sector, including accounting, finance, law and information technology. But even hard-pressed schools and the National Health Service are able to beat universities in staff recruitment.

The problems are adding to the workloads of existing staff and are giving students a poorer deal, the report says.

The IDS report says that only two universities increased London allowances beyond the national deal, "and neither by a large amount". It says other universities are using a mixture of measures to solve the problems - "golden hellos", higher starting salaries and pay supplements.

Andy Pike, national official of lecturers' union Natfhe, said of an offer from the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association to increase the London weighting allowance by 3.5 per cent: "The offer from employers will insult our members. The report exposes the continuing crisis in London higher education pay and the confusing piecemeal approach to pay that employers have applied. This cannot go on."

The proposed increase will mean the inner London weighting is increased by £92 a year, from £2,634 to £2,726. The outer-London figure would rise by £60 to £1,790.

Natfhe said the sum paled into insignificance compared with police officers, who receive more than £6,000 a year with free travel.

Natfhe will put the offer to a ballot of its members in September.

Declan Leyden, assistant director of Ucea, said: "Institutions do not have the funding available to fund anything other than the 3.5 per cent. The figure for London weighting is half a percentage point higher than the general pay increase this year, and this is to try to assist in raising the level of London weighting."

ALLOWANCES

  • Academics  £2,632
  • Police  £6,219
  • National Health Service staff up to  £5,161
  • Median public sector rate  £3,167
  • Firefighters  £4,308
  • Teachers up to  £6,090

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