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Music Mark urges Government to reconsider £1.2m cut to Teachers Pension Scheme support

3rd July 2023

Closeup view of a pile of coins

“A severe blow when we are already only just surviving”

Within the new Music Hub Investment Programme guidance for applicants was a single line statement which will result in a cut of over £1.2m to music provision from September 2024 as government withdraws support for Teachers Pension Scheme.

In 2018 the government recognised that the Teachers’ Pension Scheme was underperforming and would need increased investment to ensure that those drawing a Teachers’ Pension in England could be paid. It was announced that employers’ contributions would be increased from 16.4% to 23.6%. Following the announcement, the Department for Education (DfE) then confirmed that they would cover the increased costs for schools, either via local authorities for maintained schools or direct to Academy Trusts and Free schools. However, several bodies raised concerned about ‘unattached teachers’ – those staff who are paid on the teacher pay scales and contribute to a Teachers’ Pension scheme. Included in this group are many of the 9,250 instrumental and vocal teachers who are employed or engaged by local authorities or trusts.

Following a public consultation, the government agreed that they would support ‘unattached teachers’. This decision meant that those employing instrumental and vocal teachers within the Teachers’ Pension Scheme were provided with support to ensure income and grants given to provide musical learning were not affected by a requirement to divert funds to cover pension contributions.

Support from the DfE for employers to cover increased contributions to the Teachers’ Pension pot has continued to be provided since 2019, with support for schools and local authority ‘unattached teachers’ now folded into the Direct Schools Grant (DSG). However, a sentence within the guidance for applicants who might wish to lead a Music Hub from September 2024 has raised significant concern for Music Service Trusts who provide the Teachers’ Pension Scheme for their staff. The guidance makes it clear that the DfE are no longer going to support these music education providers despite recognition that they were within scope for support following the original consultation in 2019.

The result of this decision is that there will be a hole in the budget of a number of music services which totals over £1.2m.

This financial blow is in addition to an increasing challenge for all music education hubs to keep pace with pay and other inflationary rises when also finding it increasingly difficult to raise additional income from other sources.

Music Mark has regularly called for an increase in government funding to match the ambitions of their plan and analysis of the funding demonstrates that in the four years to November 2022, in real terms (i.e. linked to inflation), funding decreased by 18.4%. It is also worth noting that the funding has also decreased on a per-pupil basis as the school population has increased by over 554,000 (7.3%) since 2015.

Music Mark has written today to the Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan and the Schools Minster, Nick Gibb to ask for them to reconsider their decision to withdraw support inequitably to the Music education charities committed to providing their staff with the Teachers’ Pension. Music Mark also used the opportunity to renew calls for an increase in overall funding to keep pace with inflation.

You can read the full letter to the Secretary of State for Education and the Schools Minister here.

Update: Read the full response from Minister for Schools, Nick Gibb MP, dated 24 July 2023 here.