Row over private school business rates

BBC News is reporting that a row has broken out over Scottish government plans to end business rates relief for independent schools.

A newspaper has obtained a letter written by Finance Secretary Derek Mackay in which he suggests how a school might mitigate this.

The letter says the school could apply to its local council for rates relief.

Opponents have accused the government of passing the buck on rates relief to councils – a claim it denies.

The Scottish government plans to end the relief from business rates which independent schools have been able to claim as charities.

Some within the sector fear this will directly lead to school’s raising fees, offering fewer bursaries or even closing.

Mr Mackay’s letter was sent to John Swinney – the education secretary and MSP for North Perthshire – in response to the concerns of one of Mr Swinney’s constituents, who is a governor of the independent Kilgraston School.

Mr Mackay’s letter, quoted by The Scotsman, said there would be “merit” in informing the constituent that “when developing business rates reliefs I am fully aware that national incentives are not fully nuanced enough to fully flex to the needs of every sector and location.

“That is precisely why in 2014 I created a new power to allow councils to offer bespoke local business rate relief schemes.”

More at Row over private school business rates

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