Labour U-turns on private schools

The Labour leadership can’t be trusted to stick to its promises, a commentator has said after the party performed yet another embarrassing U-turn.

Sir Keir Starmer wanted to end private schools’ charitable status under a flagship policy to end the tax breaks they enjoy.

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson has said the party believes the status for most private schools should come to an end.

But Labour has dropped plans to end the schools’ charitable status, leading to accusations the party can’t be trusted.

Political commentator, Owen Jones, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: “You cannot trust a single thing that the Labour leadership promises or says”.

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Daily Express senior political correspondent, Christian Calgie, said: “The speed of these U-turns… my god, how are we supposed to believe a single thing Starmer puts in the manifesto?”.

The i newspaper first reported that Labour had scrapped the policy and instead is now only looking to apply VAT to private schools, if it gains the keys to Number 10.

A spokesperson for the party said: “Our policy remains. We will remove the unfair tax breaks that private schools benefit from, to fund desperately needed teachers and mental health counselling in every secondary school.

“This doesn’t require removing charitable status, however, driving high and rising standards for every child against the backdrop of a broken economy requires political choices.”

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Being able to claim gift aid on donations and not paying tax on annual profits, which must be reinvested in education, are among the tax breaks charitable status confers.

Julie Robinson, Chief Executive of the Independent Schools Council, still criticised Labour’s policy.

She said: “If Labour takes away the tax relief associated with charitable status for independent schools, the policy would create a two-tier system within the charity sector, setting a worrying precedent that any charity seen as not reflecting the political ideology of the day could be subject to additional taxes.

“We would love to work with Labour to build more effective ways to achieve our shared goal of improving education for all young people.”

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Labour’s policy costings only ever took into account charging VAT on school fees and ending the business rates exemption rather than the other tax breaks.

But Ms Phillipson had spoken of “scrapping charitable tax status for private schools to fund the most ambitious state school improvement plan in a generation”.

The latest U-turn comes after Labour abandoned a pledge to invest £28billion a year in climate measures, instead saying it would ramp up investment by the middle of a first parliament.

Also, among a litany of scrapped promises is a pledge to increase a levy charged on the revenues of tech companies in Britain from two percent to 10 percent.

Labour has also partly rowed back on a commitment over workers’ rights and protections for gig economy workers.

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