Mon, 11 December 2023

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Former Conservative minister says private schools should lose charitable status

2 min read

A former Conservative minister has called for private schools to be stripped of the special status which entitles them to slash their tax bills.

Robert Halfon said the cash saved by the Treasury should instead be spent on more teachers for inner-city special schools.

Private schools are currently classed as charities, which cuts their VAT and business rates, and means they do not have to pay corporation tax on any profits they make.

In return, they are expected to help pupils from low-income families either by providing bursaries for them to get a private education, or letting state schools use their facilities.

But Mr Halfon, who was skills minister until he was sacked by Theresa May after the election, said the set-up was unfair.

Writing for ConservativeHome, he said: "It is not clear why private schools, many of whose costs to parents are literally in the stratosphere, should be regarded as charities. To what purpose?

"It is true that some private schools provide bursaries, but how much of these are for really low income students, the kind whose parents may be on the living wage or slightly higher? How many of them apply to children from the toughest estates or from some of the most deprived areas of the country?"

He added: "Across-the-board charitable status for most private schools is something that should come to an end. The monies saved by government from these concessions could be used for more teachers for special inner city schools that have outstanding results.

"If we Conservatives are to be able to present and make the case for a moral and fair capitalism, we must not be afraid to take on a few shibboleths – so that a fair-minded public will really believe us when the Government have to take tough decisions on the economy.

"How much better would it be if it were Conservatives who counter-intuitively got rid of charitable status rather than leaving it to the left to claim the moral high ground?"

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