Anas Sarwar says parents should not be ‘gaming’ school system to protest against Labour VAT policy

Anas Sarwar has said parents of children at private schools should not be “gaming” the system to protest against Labour’s policy of VAT on school fees.

As revealed by the Record, parents in an Edinburgh campaign group are planning on signing up their kids for state schools, even if they do not intend to take up the place.

Labour has pledged to charge VAT on private school fees – removing the current tax exemption – and says it could raise around £1.5 billion a year.

A private Facebook group called The Edinburgh Question, which has more than 2,000 members, is encouraging parents to oppose the policy.

Edinburgh has the highest proportion of children attending independent schools in Scotland, thought to be at least 25 per cent.

The group stated: “The introduction of VAT on school fees, on top of significant fee increases in recent years, will have a devastating effect on the affordability of private education for many families.

“Estimates from schools suggest that between 15-25% of pupils could be withdrawn as a result (although Labour are working with much lower assumptions), currently the main concern would be what provision is available in Edinburgh to accommodate these children?

“We thought it would be helpful to start a page where parents across Edinburgh could co-ordinate a response, the most obvious being to register your child for a state school place by way of demonstration.

“Even if this is not something you would plan to take up in the next session, we would encourage you to act in order to support the many families who will be adversely effected if this policy is implemented.”

Sarwar supports the VAT policy, saying it will lead to more money for Scottish education through Barnett consequentials.

He told the PA news agency: “I don’t think we should be gaming in this way.

“I think we have to focus on the fact that we have an education system that is requiring resource, that we have to make some difficult decisions in government, and this is one decision that we are making in order to attract more investment into our schools so we can improve the standard of education for children across the country.”

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