Tax Relief for Supply Teachers
On 6 April 2016, Section 14 of the Finance Bill inserted a new provision, Section 339A, into the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act (ITEPA) 2003. Section 1 of this Act specifies that any worker providing services through an employment intermediary, such as an employment agency, can no longer claim tax relief on travel and subsistence expenses. The NASUWT is extremely concerned about the impact of this provision on supply teachers, who are already an exploited and vulnerable group of workers. Supply teachers are particularly subject to the vicissitudes of intermittent and insecure work at well below the pay levels of teachers in substantive posts because of the practices of employment agencies, which are often the only source of work for a supply teacher. The 2015/16 daily rate for qualified teachers on short-term contracts, as set out in the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document for England and Wales,ranges from a main pay range minimum of £114 up to an upper pay range maximum of £194. These are the rates for classroom teachers without additional teaching and learning responsibilities .
The NASUWT's research indicates that 65% of supply teachers are currently not paid at the national teachers' pay rate at a level that is commensurate with their experience. This represents an increase in underpaid supply teachers of 8% since 2014, and 24% since 2012. Given that the maximum pay point for classroom teachers is £194 per day, over two thirds of supply teachers (68%) are only paid between £100 and £149 per day. Only 16% of supply teachers are paid between £150 and £199 per day, which is a reduction of 3% over the past year. Shamefully, however, 14% of supply teachers are paid between £51 and £99 per day, well below the lowest teachers' national pay rate, with 1 % of supply teachers reporting pay rates of £50 a day or less.
In addition to patterns of intermittent employment and periods of unemployment, supply teachers frequently have to travel very large distances to placements in schools. Nevertheless, the supply teacher workforce carries out a vital role in delivering the curriculum in schools which often face profound teacher shortages. The supply and substitute teacher workforce is vital to educational standards in the UK. It is generally the case that supply teachers do not get paid for their travelling time, despite them often travelling very long distances to work. Given that supply teachers do not have a fixed workplace, it has been entirely reasonable for them to be able to claim tax relief on journeys to work and for necessary subsistence up to 6 April 2016. Given this combination of circumstances, you will not be surprised to hear that many supply teachers have advised the NASUWT that the impact of the removal of tax relief on travelling and subsistence expenses has been that they have declined work in schools which they would otherwise have accepted. Given the reliance of many schools on supply teachers to staff key areas of the curriculum, this will have had an impact on school standards. The NASUWT is becoming profoundly concerned that measures adopted by the Treasury, designed to rein in excesses on the part of the wealthy or the business community, in reality impact adversely on the living standards of moderate, even low earners. The Union believes that the removal of tax relief for supply teachers' travelling and subsistence expenses is a case in point. The NASUWT, therefore, is requesting that supply teachers are exempted from this provision. The NASUWT would welcome a discussion with Treasury officials on the financial burdens on supply teachers.