Labour’s Tax Twirls: VAT Charade for Elite Schools

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Weathervanes of Westminster
Weathervanes of Westminster: Labour's Spinning and Twisting on Private Schools

Weathervanes of Westminster: Labour’s Spinning and Twisting on Private Schools

Ah, Labour – the flippiest, floppiest weathervanes in politics! Barely a gust of wind blows past before they spin and twist their position. As Tony Benn once wisely said, better a signpost than a weathercock. At least the Tories nail their colours to the mast, even as the ship sinks.

But Labour? Why, they couldn’t pick a policy and stick to it if you covered their manifesto in superglue. Just look at their latest pirouette on private schools. In 2021, they boldly declared these elite institutions would lose charitable status under a Labour government. Tax the rich! Power to the people!

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves once huffed: “Right now, private schools enjoy charitable status which makes them exempt from both business rates and from VAT at a cost to the taxpayer of £1.7bn every year.

“But… here’s the truth: Private schools are not charities.

“And so we will end that exemption and put that money straight into our state schools.

“That is what a Labour government will do.”

My, how righteous she sounded!

Yet now, quick as you like, they frantically backpedal from their own policy. Apparently, private schools can keep their tax breaks after all. A party spokesperson mutters some tripe about “unfair tax advantages”, whatever that means. More like unfairness to Labour’s wealthy donor base!

From Taxing to Relaxing: Labour’s U-Turn on Private School Charitable Status

Labour’s genius plan is now just to make private schools pay VAT. Of course, these elite institutions will simply register for VAT, charging it to parents then reclaiming it every quarter. What a devastating blow to privilege!

Adding further insult, recent data shows 25,469 international students enrolled in UK private schools this year. A 1.6% increase over 2022. These ultra-wealthy foreign parents will be quaking over a measly 20% sales tax.

Truly, Labour’s policy evolution is a masterstroke of equitable taxation. Abandoning the removal of charitable status, instead settling for VAT that can be reclaimed. Sheer genius, they’ve got the private schools on the ropes now!

Never mind that VAT is a regressive tax falling hardest on the poor. As long as wealthy private institutions pay the same sales tax as small businesses, that’s fairness enough for Labour! Forget outrageous tax exemptions and profits – just make the elite pay VAT like the commoners.

With ideas like this, no wonder Labour abandoned their principles faster than a Tory donors’ dinner. What will be their next ingenious reversal – making Etonians pay 12% National Insurance contributions? One awaits their policy pirouettes with bated breath!

Toffs and Toughs
Toffs and Toughs, historic image of boys from 2 social classes, taken July 1937 outside Lord’s Cricket Ground, England. Jimmy Sime/Central News Agency, London

Weathervanes of Westminster: Labour’s Spinning and Twisting on Private Schools

It doesn’t matter which way you cut it…Labour’s plan still allows perks for elite private schools to remain. They can continue claiming gift aid on donations and avoid paying taxes on yearly profits, which conveniently get reinvested into their rarefied education system.

Currently, around 2,500 private schools in England and Wales enjoy charitable status. This enables them to operate as tax-exempt non-profits, despite charging exorbitant fees that exclude all but the wealthiest families.

Half of these exclusive institutions are registered charities, granting them even further benefits. They pay no taxes on their substantial annual profits. Donors can claim tax relief on the vast donations that prop up this two-tier education system.

Yet Labour suggests forcing private schools to pay VAT will suffice for fairness. How generous, making these elite outfits pay the same sales tax as any ordinary business! Truly, the common man will rejoice at private school parents getting a taste of fiscal equality through 20% VAT.

It definitely makes up for the millions in unpaid taxes charities’ status allows them to dodge.

But then again it’s hardly surprising when Labour’s top team is stuffed with Bankers led by lawyerly operator types like Starmer. Is anything Labour says believable amidst the blizzards of backtracking?

So let Labour keep spinning and flip-flopping as the polls demand. Shifty shapeshifters never make trustworthy leaders. Britain deserves politicians with steadfast vision to lift up the nation, not opportunistic grifters.

As Tony said, better a signpost than a weathercock. But for direction, best avoid Labour entirely, before their policy whiplash does your neck in! At least wait until their spinning finally grinds to a halt.

By Paul knaggs

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