Independent School Fees: VAT

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:19 pm on 21 February 2024.

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Photo of Nigel Huddleston Nigel Huddleston The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 5:19, 21 February 2024

My hon. Friend makes a really important point that has been repeated by many colleagues today. An introduction of 20% VAT can have two impacts: it will either push up prices or lead to cutting costs somehow. It is intuitively obvious that, if we push large numbers of pupils from the private sector into the state sector, it will inevitably put pressure on the state sector and therefore cost members of the public even more. The numbers suggested by the Opposition simply do not stack up. It is an ill thought out policy. The full knock-on impact has not been properly considered. VAT is an incredibly complex area. It is not simple to make blanket policy without considering the full impact.

Not every private school is some kind of Eton—a point made by my hon. Friend Mr Walker and several other hon. Members. There are exceptionally vulnerable people in very deprived areas of the country who rely on our private schools to provide the type of education they cannot get in the mainstream system.