Music Mark has submitted a collective response to the Department of Education’s public consultation on the increase of teachers’ pension contributions to 23.6% from September 2019, to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS). Music Mark has answered on behalf of its member Music Hub Leads and Services.
At the time of the announcement of the increase in 2018, Music Hub Leads and Services expressed grave concerns that unless the Department of Education (DfE) agreed to support all organisations who have employees in the TPS, current budgets would not be able to meet the increase, impacting on the delivery of their services and in some cases, putting at risk the most disadvantaged children and young people.
Music Mark’s collective response informs the DfE that approximately 70% to 80% of Music Mark Hub Leads and Music Services have music teachers who are in the TPS. The impact of this increase in employers’ contributions from 16.5% to 23.6% is punitive for the future delivery by the sector. Some have reported having to find over £100,000 to cover this increase in 2019/20 alone. They confirmed that were they not to receive government support they would be required to divert money allocated to programmes of delivery, cut staff and/or increase fees to schools and parents:
“Without the additional funding support the pension increase will place a significant additional cost burden on the service, ultimately resulting in us having to increase prices. This would likely impact the most disadvantaged children and young people the most.” – Music Mark Hub Lead
Another Music Service reported that as they are serving some of the most deprived wards in the country, increasing fees to parents/schools would not be possible, therefore the contribution increase would impact its ability to continue to deliver the DfE’s Music Education Hub Core and Extension Roles:
“I know that there would be huge resistance from the council [to increasing fees to parents and schools] because of the deprivation levels in the town. We would likely have to downsize our organisation in order to afford such a hike, meaning that we simply could not deliver the National Plan fully.” – Music Mark Hub Lead
Despite these challenges, the majority of Music Mark Member Hub Leads and Services recognise the need in sticking to the TPS in future staff contracts. It is recognised that not doing so will create further divisions in the workforce and the ability to recruit a quality workforce:
“Being able to offer membership of the national Teachers’ Pension Scheme is important in recruiting and retaining the right teachers to support the quality of work that we insist on.” – Music Mark Hub Lead
Another member added:
“If Music Hubs are not supported […] some are likely to be put under pressure from local authorities and other governing boards to move to self-employed (less expensive) terms of conditions. The immediate impact of this will be less support for schools, reduced capacity to develop music strategically across the Hub area and an increasing focus on transactional music activity as opposed to collaboration and development. The longer term impact is that musical opportunities for young people beyond the curriculum in schools will become less and less accessible to those who cannot afford to pay.”
Whilst Music Mark has already helped lobby additional funding for Hubs to meet the rise in teachers’ pay, contribution increases currently being implemented across a number of schemes is having a significant impact. As with the TPS, increases to employers’ contributions to these other schemes, such as the Local Government Pension Scheme will also have an impact on the financial resilience of Music Hub Lead Organisations and Music Services. Whilst in many areas of business any additional expenditure can be offset by increasing income through price rises, in education increasing prices creates further inequality of access to provision by young people.