The Mail Online is reporting the reaction to former education secretary Michael Gove’s call for 20 per cent VAT to be levied on private school fees to tax the rich and boost the quality of the state sector.
The Conservative MP for Surrey Heath questioned how prestigious independent schools can justify taking lucrative taxpayer-funded subsidies when they cater to the ‘global super-rich’.
Private schools are designated as charities and benefit from significant tax breaks worth tens of millions of pounds a year, including business rate relief and VAT exemption on their fees.
Mr Gove wrote in a newspaper column in The Times (subscription required):
‘There is one group of highly successful enterprises that is pretty much insulated from the present row about business rates. Our private schools.
‘Because charities get an 80 per cent exemption from the levy. And, to my continuing surprise, we still consider the education of the children of plutocrats and oligarchs to be a charitable activity.’
The Mail reported the response from the Independent Schools Council, which represents leading private schools:
‘Charitable status is worth an estimated £150m, but every year independent schools provide more than £350m in free and reduced fee places to children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
‘Meanwhile 1,550 partnerships between independent and state schools working together, support 160,000 state students.
‘These partnerships include new free schools, and sharing of facilities and teachers, in particular in science and language subjects where there is a shortage in state schools, as well as university access support.’
What do you think? Should independent schools fees be subject to VAT? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or via Twitter…
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