Labour would ‘scrap discount business rates for private schools and charge VAT on fees’, according to leaked document

Labour is planning to scrap discounted business rates for private schools and charge VAT on fees if it comes to power, according to a leaked document.

The policy is estimated to have the potential to bring in £1.64bn a year. 

The shadow Treasury memo which has been seen by The Daily Telegraph, includes plans drawn up by shadow chancellor John McDonnell‘s team. The newspaper reported that they are part of Labour’s “preparing for government” strategy in anticipation of an early election. 

Labour proposed in its 2017 manifesto that it would introduce free school meals for all primary students, funded by removing the VAT exemption from private school fees.

But ending the historic business rates exemption that independent schools have been able to claim as charities appears to be taking the proposal further.

Labour said it does not comment on leaks, but one source said: “Private schools help hoard wealth, power and opportunity for the few. We’re proud that at the last election, we said we’d tax private schools and pay for free school meals for all primary school kids.”


A June study by the Sutton Trust and the Social Mobility Commission in June found that high ranking jobs continued to be dominated by a small elite of privately educated people, many of whom went to Oxbridge

The educational backgrounds of more than 5,000 leading figures across nine broad categories were examined by researchers. 

These included politicians, judges, journalists, the chief executives of FTSE companies, along with tech bosses and stars from the world of film, sport and pop. 

In politics, it found that 39 per cent of the cabinet at the time the analysis was carried out, went to fee-paying schools compared with 9 per cent of the shadow cabinet, while 29 per cent of the 2017 intake of MPs were privately educated.


A total of 57 per cent of members of the House of Lords, 59 per cent of civil service permanent secretaries and 52 per cent of Foreign Office diplomats come from a private school background. 

Almost two thirds (65 per cent) of senior judges were privately educated, as were 43 per cent of the 100 most influential news editors and broadcasters and 44 per cent of newspaper columnists.  

In the arts, 44 per cent of top actors and 30 per cent of pop stars went to independent schools.

Press Association contributed to this report


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