Boris Johnson says teachers will get an extra £3k to teach science or maths
Boris Johnson closed the Conservative Party conference today with a keynote speech praising the NHS, confirming the need for a new Tory economic model, and launching an offensive on Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.
He also unveiled a £3,000 “levelling up premium” to encourage talented maths and science teachers to go and work in disadvantaged areas – the only policy he announced in 45 minutes. However, as it turns out, an almost identical scheme was first announced in 2019 then scrapped the following year.
Sam Freedman, a former Department for Education (DfE) adviser, said the old programme was “pretty similar” to what was announced today, “but they just stuck levelling up at the front of it”. He told The Independent: “Now we’ve got an overheating labour market, recruitment has fallen through the floor and they’ve just thought we’ve got a real problem again so they’ve just unscrapped some of the financial perks.”
It comes amid a wave of criticism for the PM’s address, which Labour chair Anneliese Dodds branded “empty”, The Spectator’s Katy Balls said was “big on rhetoric rather than policy, and The Mirror’s Pippa Crerar called “the most policy-lite – and joke-heavy – speech I can remember covering”.
Mr Johnson found time to condemn the “woke culture” threatening to “cancel” historical figures too. Using Winston Churchill as an example – after the former war prime minister was accused of being a racist last year – he said the Tories would not let people “erase Britain’s history”.
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UC cut ‘biggest overnight benefit reduction in UK history’
George Eaton, of The New Statesman, shared the following graphic, revealing only cuts to unemployment benefits in the 1930s come close to the size of UC cuts taking effect today.
Sam Hancock6 October 2021 15:15
PM unveils £3,000 boost for teachers – after scrapping almost identical scheme
Following my post earlier (2.42pm), here’s our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn on the newly-unveiled “levelling up premium” for teachers – which, as it turns out, was actually unveiled in 2019 and then scrapped.
Sam Hancock6 October 2021 15:11
Labour condemns Johnson’s ‘empty speech’
Anneliese Dodds, chair of the Labour Party, has blasted the PM’s “empty” conference speech, pointing to the fact Boris Johnson “quipped his way through an empty speech” on the same day his government went ahead with reversing the £20-a-week uplift to Universal Credit payments.
Sam Hancock6 October 2021 15:05
Watch: Johnson jokes about number of children Rees-Mogg has
Boris Johnson jokes about number of children Jacob Rees-Mogg has during Tory conference
Sam Hancock6 October 2021 15:01
Benefits minister sings about ‘having time of my life’ as UC cut comes into force
Work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey was captured singing “I’ve had the time of my life” only an hour after the £20-a-week cut to universal credit came into force.
The benefits minister was filmed partying at a Conference Party conference karaoke event around 1am on Wednesday – the day her department began cutting the incomes of millions of households, reports Adam Forrest.
Labour condemned the timing of Ms Coffey’s revelry – pointing to the lyrics of Bill and McKenna Medley’s 1987 power ballad (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life. Nadia Whittome MP said: “Do you know who aren’t having the time of their lives? The six million low-income families whose universal credit she’s just cut by £1,000 [a year].”
Sam Hancock6 October 2021 14:50
Zahawi admits teacher ‘level up premium’ new version of old policy
Nadhim Zahawi, the education secretary, appears to have confirmed the only policy Boris Johnson announced in his speech today was not a new one – rather it is a U-turn to enforce a measure announced in 2019 and recently scrapped.
Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s World at One, Mr Zahawi was asked if the “levelling up premium” for maths and science teachers was effectively just a U-turn, or a return to an old policy. He replied:
“If we have policies that work, I’m a pragmatist when it comes to these things; if something has worked, then why not, when you have teacher shortages in core subjects, focused very much on particular parts of the country that really need them, focused very much on years 1 to 5, then let’s try and encourage those teachers to stay in the profession or join the profession.
“So it is a good announcement.”
Sam Freedman, former Department for Education (DfE) adviser, said the following:
Sam Hancock6 October 2021 14:39
How did political commentators find PM’s speech?
The reviews are in and the verdict is, mostly, negative.
Sam Hancock6 October 2021 14:32
Transport boss condemns ‘political jester’ PM for empty speech
Some industry commentary on the PM’s speech now.
Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, said:
“As ever, this political jester came up with nothing but hot air.
“We had slogans over specifics at a time when costs are rising, inflation is a real worry, universal credit is reduced for millions, there are widespread food and fuel shortages and a very real climate crisis.
“As we try to move away from the shadow of Covid, the prime minister’s pitch will ring hollow for many. He talks about completing Northern Powerhouse Rail but is set to ditch the Eastern leg of High Speed 2. It looks and feels as though an iceberg is heading towards our economy and Johnson is the captain of a rudderless ship incapable of steering a course to safety.”
Sam Hancock6 October 2021 14:22
Campaigners use PM’s words against him: ‘Have guts to cancel UC cut’
Charities have called on Boris Johnson to “have the guts” to reverse the Universal Credit cut, after the PM boasted about his government tackling issues “no other government ever has”.
The PM used his Conservative Party address to say he has the “guts” to reshape society, on the same day that his government pushes ahead with removing the £20-a-week uplift. Cuts will be staggered as families receive payments on different dates.
Imran Hussain, director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, said it is a “grim day” for working families hit by the cut.
“The prime minister talks about having the guts to tackle big societal problems.
“We want this government to have the guts to cancel the cut and throw working families a lifeline.
“Make no mistake, families on modest wages keeping their heads above water are going to be pushed under by this; we’re talking about hairdressers, care workers and shop workers.”
Meanwhile, Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, said:
“The prime minister’s vocabulary was action-packed but the big action for struggling families has been a Universal Credit cut that leaves them without enough to live on.
“The opportunity the Prime Minister speaks of will feel like a vanishing light for these families – in their millions.
“Child poverty is rising in the UK and the Universal Credit cut will push it higher. Will the Government have the guts to confront and tackle it or will it go on sidestepping it as an inconvenience?”
Sam Hancock6 October 2021 14:15
Gary Neville: ‘Brutal’ to reduce Universal Credit by £20-a-week
Gary Neville has said it was “brutal” to reduce Universal Credit payments at this time, as a £20-a-week cut came into force.
An estimated six million were set to be hit by a reduction in income as the uplift – introduced at the start of the pandemic – stopped being implemented, writes Zoe Tidman.
Former England footballer Neville joined charities and think-tanks in criticising the move in an interview on Wednesday, the day the changes started being implemented.
Sam Hancock6 October 2021 14:10