Politics: Blair: Teachers Will Get Extra Pay to Stay in Jobs For
Marie Woolf Chief Political Correspondent, The Independent (London, England)
THE PRIME Minister marked today's return of Parliament with a message of support for the police, nurses and teachers who he signalled could expect bonuses to reward those working in tough inner-city areas.
Tony Blair gave his strongest indication yet that investment in public services and management of the economy would be key issues for the next election. "I think there will be two very clear choices before the British people at the election," he said in an interview with BBC's Breakfast with Frost. "Stability in the economy versus the old Tory boom and bust, investment in our public services versus cuts in public services."
Mr Blair pledged that within four years there would be "more police employed than ever before" and said figures out in 10 days would show the first rise in police numbers in seven years. He hinted extra money would be available long term to attract police, nurses and teachers to areas, such as London and the South-east, where there is a long-term recruitment crisis.
"One of the reasons why we want to get greater rewards to teachers, to people in the health service and to the police is in order to say, `We value your contribution'," he said. New teaching recruits in inner city areas are expected to receive bonuses in return for staying with the job more than two to three years. The extra starting salaries for new teachers are expected to provoke an outcry from teachers already working in inner city areas. They are due to gain only a 3.5 per cent increase in the basic rate of pay from April, as part of this year's pay deal, barely more than the rate of inflation.
The Prime Minister suggested the next election, expected this spring, will not be fought on the same "big tent" strategy used by Labour in 1997 to attract people from all sections of society. …