ISC statement: VAT on school fees

Posted on: 16 Oct 2018
Posted by: Julie Robinson

Julie Robinson, ISC general secretary, responds to media reports suggesting the Treasury might be considering imposing VAT on school fees in the upcoming Budget on Monday 29 October.

“In short, the sums for a policy such as this do not add up.

“A third of pupils at our schools are on reduced fees and most of our pupils are from families where parents work hard to pay for an independent school education. Putting VAT on school fees would make this an unaffordable choice for many families. Smaller independent schools would certainly close, resulting in a sudden increase in the numbers of young people needing places at state schools – driving up costs to the taxpayer. Currently, 600,000 children are educated in independent schools, saving the taxpayer the cost of educating them. For every child forced out of the independent sector, the impact on the Department for Education’s budget would be approximately £6,310 per pupil per year, with a further one-off capital cost associated too.

“In addition to the impact on costs and capacity in the state sector, a drop-off in the number of independent school pupils would result in staff redundancies. This would not just be teachers; many would be catering staff, cleaners, grounds-people and classroom assistants. Along with job losses, there would be negative impact on many local suppliers, who rely on independent schools as part of their supply chain.

“Ultimately, putting VAT on school fees would cost the Government money, not raise money, and heap more pressure on the state system when it is already stretched. Working in partnership with the Department for Education, we have been making huge strides to develop and strengthen partnership projects between independent and state schools, which benefit tens of thousands of pupils every year. And, independent schools have been doing more and more to widen access in recent years, increasing the amount of means-tested bursary provision for lower income families and providing a growing number of free places to looked-after children and young people on the edge of care. All of this important and life-transforming work will be diminished if a VAT on fees policy were introduced.”