Independent School Fees: VAT

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:30 pm on 21 February 2024.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Andrew Lewer Andrew Lewer Conservative, Northampton South 4:30, 21 February 2024

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered independent school fees and VAT.

It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Henderson—I think for the first time. I put on the record my thanks to the Independent Schools Council and its superb chief executive Julie Robinson, not only for the tireless campaigning that it does for the independent education sector but for its work as the secretariat for the all-party parliamentary group on independent education. I have been the chair of that group since founding it in 2017, after moving from being an MEP to an MP. A number of independent schools serve my constituents, including Quinton House, Bosworth School, Northampton High School for Girls and OneSchool Global.

More than 600,000 children are educated in the independent schools sector in the UK, saving UK taxpayers more than £4 billion each year because those pupils are not educated in the state sector. In addition, the independent sector has a total economic footprint that amounts to £16.5 billion, supporting 328,000 jobs and £5.1 billion in tax revenue. Why is it that the sector often gets bad press, despite its contribution to society both economically and educationally? For many people, when they hear the terms “independent school” or “private school”, they immediately associate them with elitism, isolation and privilege. Nothing could be further from the truth. Independent schools today are modern, diverse and inclusive places that often provide education and specialist provision where the state sector does not go. Furthermore, independent schools are more connected to society now than ever before, working with the state sector in partnerships and widening access through bursaries.