The Independent is reporting that a senior Tory MP has criticised the Government’s refusal to release sixth-form colleges from having to pay VAT…
Graham Stuart, the Conservative chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee, is leading a cross-party campaign by 75 MPs to persuade the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, to exempt colleges…
“MPs across the House feel very strongly that sixth-form colleges still have to pay VAT when schools and academies can reclaim those costs,” said Mr Stuart, MP for Beverley.
“Young people should receive the same level of investment in their education irrespective of where they choose to study. It would cost around £30m a year to ensure students in sixth-form colleges are treated fairly – a comparatively modest sum for central government that would make an enormous difference to the education of these young people. I would urge all political parties to commit to addressing this anomaly.”
The 75 MPs who have signed the letter include two former education secretaries in David Blunkett and Alan Johnson, Margaret Hodge, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee, and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. Prominent Conservative MPs including Sir Peter Bottomley and Anne McIntosh have also signed it.
The letter to Ms Morgan says: “Students in sixth-form colleges achieve better exam results and are more likely to progress to higher education than young people educated elsewhere in the state sector. All of this is achieved with a greater proportion of students eligible for free school meals than school or academy sixth-forms.”
…The letter adds: “Despite this success, perversely sixth-form colleges have experienced deeper cuts to their funding than schools or academies since 2010 and two-thirds have been forced to drop courses as a result…”
…Nick Boles, the skills minister, told MPs the VAT row was a “long-standing issue that the last government also failed to address”. He added: “One of the things I am looking into is the possibility of enabling sixth-form colleges to change their status if they are willing to link up with other schools. It is still subject to discussions with the Treasury, which is always pretty fierce on these matters.”
Welcome move by Graham Stuart and MPs? What do you make of the comment from Nick Boles that sixth-form colleges may be able to change their status if they are willing to link up with other schools? What would that be about? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…
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