Private education

Parents back Labour’s plan for VAT on school fees

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Labour wants to impose VAT on private school fees

Labour has won support for its VAT plans from parents planning to send their children to private schools, according to new research.

Two-thirds (64%) of those booking places for their children think VAT should be added to fees.

The survey commissioned by wealth manager Charles Stanley also reveals that parents who already send their children to private school are more in favour of the VAT addition than those who don’t (46% compared with 40%).

Among wealthy parents, 43% of all high-net-worth respondents in the UK agree it should happen, while 27% disagree.

The research comes as Labour targets private schools as a source of funding state education. Fees across the private sector have already risen by 8% while the Independent Schools Council has reported that admissions this past year have fallen by 2.7%.

Earlier this year the FT reported that private schools are aggressively recruiting wealthy international students in anticipation of Labour’s proposals.

The Charles Stanley research may ease some concerns in the independent sector, though it reveals that more than a tenth (12%) of parents say that adding VAT to fees would price them out of the private sector and they would move their children to a state school. Just under one in ten (9%) would switch their children to a cheaper private school. 

Others would continue to send their children to private schools by making other sacrifices – 13% would cut back on their social life, 12% would look for a higher paying job, 12% would downsize, and 11% would go back to work. 

In terms of finding the money, 10% would use their own inheritance, 6% would use their children’s inheritance, 8% would ask their parents for financial support, 7% would ask their grandparents for the same, while 9% would dip into their pension. 

Men are bigger supporters of the VAT addition, with 48% behind the plan against 39% of women.

Some in the education sector say that if adding VAT did force parents to ditch the private sector it would merely add to the pressures on the state sector. It could make it more difficult for children in low income families to get access to the best state schools which would be expected to absorb those from the private sector.

Harry Bell, director of financial planning at Charles Stanley, said: “Parents – even wealthy ones – make major sacrifices to be able to send their children to private schools.

“Whilst it may seem surprising that those parents are in favour of what is, in practice, a 20% fee hike, many feel it is their responsibility to accept a higher tax burden for the privilege of sending their children through private education.”



3 Comments to Parents back Labour’s plan for VAT on school fees

  1. This article is utter rubbish and pure propaganda. Whoever believes there’s widespread support is foolish, discriminatory all at once. Keir has lost my vote in Labour by betting the future of his party on the millions of the future of the next generation who will make Britain. He has completely lost his plot and short-changing the prospects of the next generation. Foolish, shameful.

  2. Has anyone included surveys of those independent school parents without the luxury of a wealth manager? References to “parents going back to work to pay the VAT” just stinks of a survey which includes people with enough wealth to fund independent school fees on one salary while neglecting those struggling to do it already on two!

    Currently there’s a tipping point between those who can just about afford it an those who can’t. This policy will just create an absolute gulf between the masses and the elite for who 20% increase is a mere inconvenience!

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