ISC warns that VAT on fees policy is a tax on aspiration

Posted on: 11 Jul 2022
Posted by: Julie Robinson

Chief executive of the Independent Schools Council (ISC), Julie Robinson, warns that Labour’s proposal to charge VAT on independent school fees is a further tax on hard-working parents, who are striving to do the best for their children.

ISC chief executive Julie Robinson said: “Labour’s proposal to charge VAT on independent school fees will have the greatest impact on the families who work the hardest to pay the fees. These parents are striving to do the best for their children and often sacrifice other spending to pay school fees - their right to make choices over education should not be undermined by a tax on aspiration.

“Ultimately, the policy would threaten the survival of the smallest independent schools, which operate on tight margins and without large endowments. Most independent schools have fewer than 400 pupils on roll, and these small schools, serving their local communities, would be at risk of closure.

“Everyone working in independent schools wants to see a well-funded state school system and for all children to get a great education. This though, is a policy proposal by Keir Starmer in which the numbers simply do not stack up. Research shows that Labour’s policy will reduce the amount of money available to improve state schools. In the fifth year of a policy, with independent schools closing and additional pupils moving into the state sector, the Department for Education will be losing more than £400 million per year from the schools budget.

“Instead of counter-productive tax rises on parents, independent schools want to support state schools by building upon partnership work with their friends and colleagues in the state sector. Thousands of these projects are underway, improving education for all, and strengthening bonds between schools. Partnership – not punitive taxes – is the best way for independent schools to contribute to catch-up efforts and create more learning opportunities for all pupils.”

Notes to editors Research carried out by Baines Cutler Solutions Ltd looking at Labour’s VAT on fees policy found it would cost the Government at least £416m in its fifth year once pupil displacement and VAT recovery is taken into account. Read the report here.