Labour scraps plan to strip private schools of charitable statusSeptember 27, 2023
Labour scraps its plan to strip private schools of their charitable status but insists it will still add VAT to fees… as headmaster of Keir Starmer’s old school urges him NOT to go ahead with the tax
- The party said it would still charge schools 20 per cent VAT and scrap relief
Labour has scrapped plans to abolish the charitable status of private schools but insisted it would still add VAT to fees.
The party was accused of ‘flip-flopping’ after rowing back on previous proposals to rip up institutions’ charitable status.
But Labour said it would press ahead with plans to charge schools 20 per cent VAT and scrap the 80 per cent relief they receive on business rates.
The change in policy will make it easier for the party to pass the controversial measures through parliament.
Independent schools can register as charities in return for acts that benefit the community. But the policy could force bursars to hit families with unaffordable charges from as early as next September.
Labour has scrapped plans to abolish the charitable status of private schools but insisted it would still add VAT to fees
Julie Robinson, head of the Independent Schools Council, said: ‘If Labour takes away the tax relief associated with charitable status for independent schools, the policy would create a two-tier system within the charity sector, setting a worrying precedent that any charity seen as not reflecting the political ideology of the day could by subject to additional taxes.’
READ MORE: Labour faces a backlash over its plans to put VAT on school fees immediately if the party wins power
Sir Anthony Seldon, head of Epsom College called on the party to stop ‘flip-flopping’ on policy. He said: ‘They should be trying to improve state schools and not least by having steady policy, not flip-flopping.’
A Labour spokesman said tonight: ‘We will remove the unfair tax breaks that private schools benefit from, to fund desperately needed teachers and mental health counselling in every secondary school.
‘This doesn’t require removing charitable status, however, driving high and rising standards for every child against the backdrop of a broken economy requires political choices.’
It comes as the headmaster of Sir Keir’s old school urged the Labour leader to scrap plans to impose VAT on private schools.
The policy would fail to solve funding issues in the state sector, argued Reigate Grammar’s Shaun Fenton.
He urged Sir Keir to row back on the plans and ‘start talking about children’ instead.
Sir Keir arrived at RGS in 1974 when it was a voluntary-aided selective grammar school, and stayed when it converted to an independent and fee-paying school in 1976
‘Keir flourished as a pupil at Reigate Grammar School and we hold out a hand of partnership to him,’ he told The i newspaper.
‘We need to move past taxation debates and start talking about children.
‘The independent sector stands ready to work with a Keir Starmer government to help our country’s children, to boost teacher recruitment and retention, be part of a review of curriculum and qualifications, develop more intelligent accountability and inspections.’
Sir Keir arrived at RGS in 1974 when it was a voluntary-aided selective grammar school, and stayed when it converted to an independent and fee-paying school in 1976.
Experts fear removing private schools’ charitable status will flood the state sector with 40,000 pupils whose parents will be priced out by the rise in fees.
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