North of England school vows not to increase fees amidst Labour’s VAT policy

Posted: 30th April 2024

One of the UK’s oldest boarding schools has announced its decision not to increase its school fees should the Labour Party come into power later this year.

If Labour wins the upcoming General Election, it intends to remove the VAT exemption on independent school fees – adding 20% onto the cost.

Giggleswick School, in Settle, North Yorkshire, is believed to be the first school in the north of England to announce its decision not to pass this cost onto families, vowing to only increase fees in line with inflation.

The potential savings for parents are substantial. The Schools’ current fees for a full boarder are £40,485 a year. If the school were to add VAT to parents, the cost would be £48,582.

The decision aims to provide reassurance and certainty to its community of parents and pupils amidst evolving political and economic conditions.

Giggleswick School’s Headmaster, Sam Hart, explained, “Considering the potential changes in the political landscape, we recognise the importance of doing everything within our power to shield our parents and pupils from significant increases in fees.

“By deciding not to pass the VAT cost onto parents, we hope to provide reassurance and support during these uncertain times.”

The School’s leaders are now exploring potential options for cost savings while ensuring the delivery of high-quality education remains a priority.

Mr Hart added, “As a small rural school with limited resources, we face significant challenges in mitigating the impact of such policies. We are committed to not compromising the quality of our educational offering; however, it will mean restructuring programmes and staff, and unfortunately, reducing bursary support to cover the VAT bill. Without clarity and policy detail we face a void of uncertainty; planning early and robustly is our only option to ensure the future success of the School.

“We want to make it clear that this isn’t an easy decision, but we have little choice in the matter if we are to protect our parents, pupils and the School.”

Giggleswick School is an independent co-educational day and boarding school for children aged 2 to 18. Founded in 1512, the School is thought to be one of the oldest private schools in England.

Its notable alumni include English golfer Gary Wolstenholme and journalist and TV presenter Richard Whiteley (1943 – 2005), best known for his 23 years as host of the game show Countdown.

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