Labour refuses to exempt all SEND pupils from VAT plans

  • 27th February 2024

Labour’s shadow education minister Helen Hayes has said that the party will not exempt all schools teaching children with special educational needs and disabilities from its VAT plans “to avoid a loophole whereby any school can claim that it is a special school”, The Telegraph has reported.

Speaking to MPs during a Westminster Hall debate, Hayes said Labour has promised to exempt fees for pupils with an education, health and care plan (EHCP), however more than 1,600 children in independent special schools don’t have an EHCP, which can take years to acquire.

The Independent Schools Council chief executive Julie Robinson said: “We are calling for an exemption for over 96,000 of our students who are receiving SEND support but who do not have an EHCP. Whether or not their independent school is designated as a special school should be irrelevant to this. We are keen to work with Labour to make sure this exemption would be targeted at the families and children who need it.”

Neil O’Brien, the Conservative MP for Harborough, who had questioned Labour on its policy, said: “Parents of children with special needs work so hard and often have no practical choice except small independent schools to get the care their vulnerable children need.”

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