Sky News says that Jeremy Corbyn would end the “subsidy to the privileged few” and use the money to pay for school meals instead.
At a launch event in Lancashire today, Mr Corbyn will highlight research which shows that universal access to free school meals improves pupils’ productivity.
The Labour leader will say: “No child in the UK should go hungry at school.
“By charging VAT on private school fees, Labour will make sure all primary school children, no matter what their background, get a healthy meal at school.”
The party said that in 2010 the Fabian Society estimated that introducing VAT on private school fees could raise around £1.5bn annually.
“The next Labour government will provide all primary school children with a free school meal, invest in our schools, and make sure no child is held back because of their background.”
Children in reception, year one and year two already get free school meals and Labour says extending the scheme to all primary school pupils is estimated to cost between £700m to £900m a year.
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, will say, “By investing in our education system and providing free school meals for every primary school child, we will remove the stigma attached to free school meals, and improve health and attainment for all children,”
The Independent Schools Council (ISC), representing private schools, said Labour’s proposals did not add up and would force some smaller schools to close.
IS general secretary Julie Robinson said: “A third of pupils at our schools are on reduced fees and are from families where both parents work hard to pay the fees.
“If this measure was introduced smaller independent schools may close, driving more children back to be funded in the state system. 600,000 children are educated in independent schools, saving the taxpayer the cost of educating them.”
How great is the stigma attached to free school meals? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter ~ Tamsin
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