Row as Labour accuses Government of 'private schools tax break'

Posted On: 
27th February 2018

Labour has accused the Government of offering parents who send their children to private schools a £2,000 tax break every year.

Labour promised to "simplify Britain’s broken childcare system"
Credit: 
PA Images

Parents can claim back £2 for every £8 they pay for childcare, up to a total of £500 per child every three months.

One government webpage says private schools are included in the list of eligible childcare providers for children up to 11-years-old.

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Labour accused ministers of a “handout to the wealthy” and called on the Government to remove private schools from the list.

But the Conservatives insisted the claim it amounted to help with school fees was "completely false" and said the system was no different to that offered by the last Labour government.

Parents are eligible for help if neither of them earns more than £100,000 a year and if their kids receive childcare at a private school or out-of-hours at a state school, the webpage says.

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Peter Dowd said: “It is shocking that the Government seek to give thousands of pounds to the richest families, so they can send their children to private school while state education funding is slashed.

“This is another handout to the wealthy by this Government for the few. The Government must immediately exclude private school fees from subsidy under their new programme, and invest in our education system to ensure that it works for the many, not just a privileged few.

“The next Labour Government will simplify Britain’s broken childcare system and invest to offer 30 hours of free childcare to all two to four-year-olds.”

But the Conservatives insisted tax-free childcare could not be used for independent school fees for children aged five and over. 

They said the tax-free scheme was only available for kids below the age of five at registered settings including publicly and privately run nurseries, public and independent schools and with independent childcare professionals.

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Robert Jenrick said: “Labour’s claims about education funding are completely false.

"There is no difference in the eligibility of childcare settings from the old childcare voucher system under the last Labour government.

“With tax-free childcare and 30 hours free childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds, we are helping families with the costs they face.

“School funding is at a record high and we are protecting per-pupil funding in real terms – all possible because of the balanced approach we are taking to public spending.”