Labour’s VAT on fees proposal ‘may force students to leave private schools’
Labour has said its VAT plan will raise £1.6 billion a year.
A survey of parents has revealed that the Labour’s proposed VAT on fees may force a fifth of students to leave private schools, the Telegraph reported.
Almost 60 per cent of respondents said that they would withdraw their child from their current school if VAT of 20 per cent was added to fees. Only 10 per cent of parents said that they could afford VAT on fees.
The by the Independent Schools Council (ISC) covered more than 16,000 parents at 332 different schools.
According to the report, independent schools are considering advance fee increases to prepare parents, mergers with other schools, and using more online resources in the wake of the new proposal.
Some head teachers even worry that they might not survive under the policy.
“Most of my parents will not be able to afford a substantive fee increase just on the whim of any government,” Duncan Murphy, headmaster of Kingswood House School in Epsom, Surrey, where fees are up to £5,820 per term, was quoted as saying by the Telegraph.
According to Murphy, 60 per cent of pupils are on the school’s special educational needs register, with 15 per cent having an education, health and care plan.
The school plans to increase fees next year by just under six per cent, and also considering merging with another school to reduce costs.
Sarah Norville, headmistress of Rydes Hill Preparatory School in Guildford, Surrey, where fees are up to £4,987 a term, said she has spoken to parents about a potential 20 per cent rise in fees.
“It is not a school of multimillionaires with great big houses. Most of my parent body are very similar to lots of state school parents in salary and they’re just choosing to make this financial choice for their child, and they do make a lot of sacrifices in order to afford this education for their children because that’s what they want for them,” she is reported to have said.
Lord Lucas, editor of the Good Schools Guide, said that many private school parents, who save the Treasury around £4bn a year by not using state education, will have to move their children to state schools, wiping out the benefit of money raised from VAT.
As many as 43 per cent of those surveyed had not been educated privately themselves and around 66 per cent of households were dual income. Around 67 per cent of parents in the West Midlands are not confident about keeping their child in their current school.
In the South West of England, South Central and East of England, more than 60 per cent of parents said they would probably or certainly withdraw their child.
Parents in London and the North West were the least pessimistic about VAT on school fees.
“These figures clearly show that a punitive tax on parents will have a very real effect on parents’ rights to choose the school that best suits their children’s needs,” Julie Robinson, chief executive of the ISC, was quoted as saying by the Telegraph.
“We are also concerned about the knock-on effect in the state sector, and the possibility of more families missing out on their first choice of school.
Labour has been contacted by the newspaper for comment.