Headlines: July 12th, 1999

The levers of pay are being pulled sharply across the health and education sectors to speed the modernisation programme. Public sector organisations make much less use of reward systems to further corporate objectives than companies in the private sector, but that is changing. New pay systems will give nurses the opportunity to increase their pay by 42.8% and teachers by 42.5%. Top pay for both professions will be about 40,000 pounds.

The new pay systems are designed to support modernisation with a modest increase in funding. For example only 300 nurses will reach the top of the scale. Greater rewards will go to those who achieve the most. Nurse will be able to progress to nurse consultant posts, the nursing equivalent of specialist doctors. Teachers will have to pass a performance threshold and then progress to further performance points. For both professions the systems will encourage the development of expertise which can then be shared with others. The changes will also contribute to the recruitement and retention of the most able people.

The move away from spreading new money across the board has been broadly welcomed by nurses, but teachers are much less enthusiastic. Consultation by the Department for Education and Employment found that two thirds of teachers did not support the change, but the majority of school governors and parents consulted were in favour of the proposals.