Labour refuses to rule out introducing VAT on private school fees mid-academic year

10 June 2024, 17:53 | Updated: 10 June 2024, 20:45

Phillipson on VAT on school-fees coming mid-year

By Will Conroy

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson failed to rule out the possibility that VAT could be imposed on private schools mid-way through the academic year, speaking to LBC.

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Labour has pledged to remove private schools’ exemption of paying 20% VAT if it wins the general election and hopes to raise about £1.5bn a year to increase investment into state schools.

This policy would increase fees for private school pupils but Ms Phillipson failed to outline when these changes will occur.

While discussing when the policy will be introduced with Tom Swarbrick on LBC, she said: “It’s subject to any decisions that will be taken as part of the budget process.

“I’m not going to commit to a date precisely because it will depend on the parliamentary timetable and fiscal statements by a chancellor.”

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer and Bridget Phillipson during a visit to Nursery Hill Primary School, in Nuneaton, Warwickshire
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer and Bridget Phillipson during a visit to Nursery Hill Primary School, in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Picture: Alamy

When pressed on whether this could occur mid-way through the school year, she failed to offer any assurances on the matter.

She said: “It depends on where we get to. All I’ll say is this; it has been a labour party commitment since 2021. This has been our position for some time.

“Parents know and voters know going into this election that if Labour wins the election we will introduce VAT on private school fees - that’s a well-established fact that people will know.”

Read more: ‘Scaremongering’: Labour denies ending ‘tax breaks’ for private schools would pile pressure on state school places

Read more: Labour plan to give all primary school children free breakfasts - but shadow schools minister doesn't know how many

This comes after Labour pledged to create 3,000 new nurseries within primary schools on Sunday night using the funds from ending the private school tax break.

This is part of a key manifesto offer to working parents that will look to accommodate an additional 100,000 childcare places in England and Wales.

Labour have also said the policy will pay for 6,500 more teachers.

Emily Thornberry said ending the charitable status of private schools could lead to bigger classes.
Emily Thornberry said ending the charitable status of private schools could lead to bigger classes. Picture: Alamy

The shadow education secretary had earlier been required to correct comments from shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry, who on Sunday said ending the charitable status of private schools could lead to bigger classes.

Ms Phillipson said: “That is not our policy… I am afraid there has been some misunderstanding there.

“Our policy will deliver high and rising standards right across our schools and will provide significant investment for early years.”

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