Labour’s politics of envy would mean over 200,000 extra pupils enter the state system at a cost of around £1.7 billion. MORE than the entire revenue they plan to raise from the VAT hike.

The Labour Party’s proposal to impose a 20 percent VAT on private schools has sparked fury with claims that it will overwhelm state and grammar schools, and also not raise the anticipated revenue.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has said that Labour would move ahead with the plans “straight away” if it wins the election on July 4.

Starmer’s plan aims to generate over £1.5 billion by charging 20 per cent VAT on independent school fees in the event of Labour winning the General Election thus abolishing business rates relief for private schools.

However, Labour’s “politics of envy” would mean over 224,000 extra pupils entering the state system at a cost of around £1.7 billion. MORE than the entire revenue they plan to raise from the VAT hike.

Polling of 30,000 parents of children at private schools, conducted by education consultancy Baines Cutler over the past two years, suggests 42 per cent would have to leave the private sector (which has 500,000-plus pupils) within the next five years, including 14 per cent who would leave immediately.

Analysis shows Labour’s policy will also push a substantial number of students from private to grammar schools and create fierce competition for the best state schools, which are already near or at full capacity.

Currently, 39 percent of England’s grammar schools are over capacity, with 74 percent at 95 percent capacity or higher.

Labour’s proposal has already received much criticism from various stakeholders including former Greg Hands, a Conservative trade minister, and Andrew Lewer, a Conservative education select committee member, who argue that the policy is detrimental to both the independent and state sectors.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said:

‘This is just more proof that Keir Starmer’s party hasn’t changed. This is the same old Labour Party, playing party politics at the expense of children’s education.

‘Their tax hike will overwhelm our state schools, driving tens of thousands of pupils into the state sector – potentially costing taxpayers £1.7 billion.

‘The choice is clear: stick with the clear plan that is working, taking bold action to drive up school standards with Rishi Sunak.

‘Or go back to square one with Keir Starmer and the politics of envy.’

Independent school leaders have also express concerns about financial stability and the potential for school closures, particularly for smaller institutions.

Critics also highlight the possible adverse effects on special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) children and Armed Forces families.

Labour defends the policy, saying it wants to raise money to improve state education and hire 6,500 new teachers. The party also argues that private schools have previously raised fees above inflation and can absorb the tax increase without passing it onto parents. However, analysts show the extra pupils entering the state system will cost more than the revenue they plan to raise leaving a blackhole in education funds.

Labour have said their policy could be implemented in time for the start of the new school year.


  1. “Starmer … attended the selective state Reigate Grammar School, which became a private school while he was a student.”
    He could go to a private school – but your children can’t.


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