During their annual party conference in Brighton last month, the Labour Party made a number of policy announcements as the battle lines are drawn for a possible imminent general election. At the Labour Party conference last month, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell unveiled a number of plans should the party come into power, including abolishing private schools and integrating them into the state sector. This would include withdrawal of charitable status and “all other public subsidies and tax privileges”, including business rate exemption.
Universities would have to admit the same proportion of private school students in accordance with the wider UK population, which currently stands at seven percent.
Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said a Labour Government would scrap the “tax loopholes” which benefit private schools, in its first budget.
Boris Johnson attacked on the plan, savaging the out of date “1970s” policy which he warned would leave British taxpayers footing a huge £7billion bill to educate the additional pupils from the private sector.
A ComRes poll carried out by the Independent Schools Council of 2,016 UK adults from September 6-8 also found just one in 10 (12 percent) would be more likely to vote for a political party that pledged to abolish independent schools.
Labour’s plan to tax private schools out of existence is the politics of envy at its most destructive and despicable
Tom Clougherty, head of tax at the Centre for Policy Studies think tank, told Express.co.uk: “Labour’s plan to tax private schools out of existence is the politics of envy at its most destructive and despicable.
“Would this plan raise money for public services? No: it would cost billions as private school pupils moved into the state sector. Would it improve educational outcomes? Of course not: this is about levelling down, not raising standards.
“We already knew that today’s Labour Party has little respect for private property, but the idea that a Labour government would confiscate the assets of Britain’s independent schools is a shocking one nonetheless.
“This plan is surely pure ideology – the kind of clapped-out, class-war socialism New Labour once thought it had banished from politics for good. Jeremy Corbyn and his cronies can’t be trusted with our children’s futures.”
Tim Focas, director of financial services at Westminster think tank Parliament Street, raged the plan is the most “damaging” Labour has announced so far, and warned Mr Johnson could even be underestimating the huge costs.
He told this website: “Labour’s plan to abolish private schools is perhaps the most damaging policy idea thought up by Corbyn and co. to date – and that is saying something.
“Removing choice of where hard working families can send their children outside the estate system is in breach of the Human Rights Act which, ironically, was introduced by the Blair Government in 1998.
“The Prime Minister has underestimated the scale of the costs. The policy would lead to the equivalent of the entire school population of Wales moving from the private to the state sector.
“Average per pupil spending is already roughly £6,000 per year, and this ludicrous policy would whack an additional £5billion to the annual cost of running the school system.”
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Matthew Lesh, head of research at the Adam Smith Institute think tank, warned the cost for taxpayers each year could be as high as £7.5billion, with Britons left trapped in a “bureaucratic state system”.
He told Express.co.uk: “The abolition of private schools would reduce choice in education, cost the taxpayer billions and lower the quality of education.
“Expropriating private property would turn Britain into a banana republic, seriously scaring away foreign investment and resulting in fewer jobs and economic decay.
“This plan shows that the Labour leadership doesn’t care about the poor, they just hate the rich. Abolishing private schools would cost taxpayers a whopping £7.5billion a year to educate hundreds of thousands of students.
“This would mean higher taxes and more debt — while the huge influx of students into the state sector would seriously burden already struggling schools, lowering the quality of education for everyone.
“Under Labour, everyone will have an equally poor quality of education with no opportunity to opt-out of the bureaucratic state system.”
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, accused Labour of a “Soviet-style seizing of school assets” and “waging a communist class war against kids”.
He said: “Politicians pushing short-sighted policies like this, which hammer taxpayers and limit choice, belong at the bottom of the class.
“What’s more, charges on private schools would likely just push up fees, making them even more exclusive and busting open the bursaries system which allows less advantaged kids access to some of the best schools in the world.
“Even worse, soviet-style seizing of school assets would be downright dastardly and would set a dangerous precedent across the board.
“Waging communist class war against kids in the classroom is cruel, and taxpayers would be left paying billions to pick up the pieces.”
Julie Robinson, chief executive of the Independent Schools Council raged the move from Labour is an “act of national self-harm”.
She said: “The move is an attack on the rights and freedoms of parents to make choices over the education of their children.
“Abolition would represent an act of national self-harm. Tearing down excellent schools does not improve our education system.
“The repercussions would be irreversible and far-reaching, damaging educational opportunities and limiting life chances.
“No society should put politics before the interests of children and young people. This decision is an ideological distraction from dealing with the real problems in education.”
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