Labour Party: Private schools’ charity status to remain but tax breaks will end

The Labour Party will not strip private schools of their charity status should they win the next general election but insists they will still end their tax exemptions.

Labour has reiterated that it plans to charge private schools 20% VAT as well as end business rates relief to raise around £1.7bn to plough into the state education sector.

"Our policy remains,” said the Labour Party in a statement to the media.

“We will remove the unfair tax breaks that private schools benefit from, to fund desperately needed teachers and mental health counselling in every secondary school.

“This doesn't require removing charitable status, however, driving high and rising standards for every child against the backdrop of a broken economy requires political choices. Labour isn't afraid to make them.”

Speaking on BBC’s Political Thinking with Nick Robinson podcast this week, Labour leader Keir Starmer reiterated his commitment to ending tax exemptions for private schools.

“I’m very comfortable with private schools but I want our state schools to be just as good so it doesn’t matter whether you send your child to private school or state school because you will get equal chances in life,” he said.

“We have to do something about the appalling state of our schools. There are too many children and young people in our state secondary schools not being taught by our maths teachers who have the relevant qualifications. That is not acceptable. And I will not accept it.

“Therefore, we will recruit those teachers and we then have to answer the question…where are you going to get the money from? That’s the reason we are doing it. It’s not an attack on private schools.”

He told private schools “its an exemption you have had that is going to go”.

He stressed it was the VAT for schools “and the school doesn’t have to pass this on to the parents in fees”.

Previous comments by senior Labour figures had appeared to imply that private schools’ charity status would end should the party come into power.

At Labour’s 2021 conference shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves told delegates that “right now, private schools enjoy charitable status which makes them exempt from both business rates and from VAT”.

“But, conference, here’s the truth: Private schools are not charities. And so we will end that exemption and put that money straight into our state schools. And that is what a Labour government will do”, she added.

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