10 September 2018
Full Response to article in The Herald
“The fundamental problem with this un-costed proposal is that it seeks to generate more income from a sector that it also seeks to “eradicate” – it can’t do both. Unlike in England and Wales, Scotland’s independent schools already sit a stringent public benefit test, to secure widened access. On top of that, they now face a unique five-fold increase in business rates. Scottish parents and tax-payers might well ask what they have done to merit yet another tax rise, especially to pay for free school meals in England which are already free in Scotland.
The proposal makes no allowance for reduced demand. Parents make great sacrifices to send their children to independent schools and would be hard hit by a rise in fees that this tax would bring. For many, this could make the schools unaffordable and many children would end up being withdrawn and move to existing state schools where extra places would then have to be funded by the taxpayer, costing at least £6000 per year per child – always assuming there are enough classrooms to house them and state-funded teachers to teach them.
Every year, our schools save the Scottish education budget £180 million, add £450 million to the Scottish economy and generate £250 million in tax. In straightened times, they secure high attainment and offer subject choice, varied curricula, wide extra-curricular provision and learning support. They should be left alone to continue that contribution to the nation.”