Parents of children at almost a quarter of day schools would face fees of over £30,000 under Labour’s proposed tax raid, a Telegraph analysis has found.
The Labour plan to impose VAT on private school fees would see day fees at 129 of 565 secondary schools exceed £30,000 if the tax was passed on in full to parents.
Presently, only 43 secondary schools charge above that threshold.
The analysis is based on costs for sixth form pupils in a sample of 565 schools that have published price structures.
If Labour wins the next election, it plans to impose 20 per cent VAT on private school fees in the following academic year.
Sir Keir has claimed that private schools will not have to pass on the extra cost to parents by raising fees.
Speaking on the BBC podcast Political Thinking with Nick Robinson, the Labour leader said: “The school doesn’t have to pass this on to the parents in fees. And each of the schools is going to have to ask themselves whether that’s what they want to do.”
However, independent schools warned that it would not be possible to insulate parents from VAT.
Julie Robinson, chief executive of the Independent Schools Council said: “VAT is a tax on parents: schools would be legally required to put VAT on their fees under Labour’s policy.
“While schools will continue to work hard to keep fees affordable for parents, unfortunately, the result of Labour’s tax on children’s education means that many schools will be forced to increase fees despite their best efforts. Each school will make their own decision on fee levels, based on their parent base, school finances and other factors such as ensuring pay rises for teachers.”
She added: “However, the net effect of a tax on parents would be making the sector increasingly elitist and out of reach to hard-working families. Parents deserve a full and thorough impact assessment on how Labour’s policy would affect education throughout the country, whether state or independent.”
Labour’s VAT raid would push almost all boarding school fees over £30,000, according to Telegraph analysis.
If the full levy is passed on to parents, sixth form fees at 267 of 275 secondary boarding schools would be over £30,000. Sixth form fees at 48 boarding schools would be pushed over the £30,000 threshold for the first time.
Meanwhile, sixth form fees at dozens of schools including Westminster School, Wellington College and Wycombe Abbey would rise above £50,000 for the first time if 20 per cent VAT was added.
Across private schools, fees for the current academic year are already rising at the fastest pace in 20 years, leading to warnings that the middle classes are being priced out of the sector. On average, private schools have this year announced fee increases of 7.1 per cent for Year 8 day pupils and 7.3 per cent for boarders. The average fee rise in the past five years was 3.1 per cent.
Schools said fee increases for the academic year that started in September reflect higher food, energy and wage bills, as well as rising teacher pension contributions.
Analysis by Weatherbys Private Bank found that the average cost of sending a child to boarding school will be more than £825,000 by 2036 if fees continue to rise by 5 per cent a year and a future Labour government imposes VAT on them.
That is more than double the overall cost of £378,000 of private education for sixth-formers who completed their A-levels this summer, assuming they began their fee-paying education from the age of seven, according to the bank’s research.