Family & Education

VAT hike on private schools could hit poorer Charedi families, Board of Deputies warns

Key Labour manifesto pledge will increase cost of independent schooling


Stamford Hill (photo: Getty Images)

The Board of Deputies is asking Labour to examine the implications of its planned removal of VAT exemption on private schools, for fear of the impact on the Charedi sector.

The party has made a manifesto commitment to impose VAT and full business rates on independent schools — although so far it has not suggested removing their charitable status.

In its updated “Jewish Manifesto” for the coming election, the Board notes that “some of the faith schools in the independent sector, particularly in the Charedi Jewish sector, cater to poorer communities who spend a disproportionate amount of their family income on specialised, faith-based education”.

It says that any changes to the cost of education should be “carefully considered”.

Most Charedi schools are independent and many rely on donations to subsidise families who would not be able to afford full or even any fees.

The Board is also opposed to quotas on admissions for religious state schools, arguing that “successful schools should be allowed to succeed as models for other schools”.

The Conservatives have promised to lift the current cap on religious free schools, which limits them to choosing only half their pupils directly on the basis of faith.

Also on the Board’s educational wish list is for the government to support twinning between faith and other schools as well as the production of school resources to help children understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It has repeated its previous call for religious schools to have flexibility in delivering relationships and sex education according to their ethos and be able to choose at what age children should be introduced to certain subjects.

Many Charedi schools have run into problems with inspectors over their decision not to teach about LGBT identity — although the Board does not argue they should be exempt from this.

The Board also wants the current restriction on child benefit to two children lifted, saying it disproportionately affects the Jewish community.

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