A HEADMASTER from a leading private school has condemned the government’s “narrow-minded” plans to raise funds by scrapping relief on business rates in the sector.
The Scottish Government aims to raise £5millions from indepedent schools by implementing full business rates, which it announced in the recent budget.
Previously, private schools were exempt from paying 80 per cent of the rates which was courtesy of their charitable status.
The decision was announced by Finance Secretary Derek Mackay following a recommendation by the recent Barclay Review on business rates.
Rod Grant, headteacher at fee-paying Clifton Hall School near Edinburgh, has said that the move was motivated by politics rather than financial prudence.
He said that the move, which he branded an “attack on independent schools” would not increase revenue but reduce it.
On a post of the school’s Facebook page, he said: “The anticipated effect of this policy will be that around 1,800 pupils return, almost overnight, to state funded education.
“State education costs the government £6,000 per pupil. On that basis, the implementation of this policy will cost the country £10.8 million whilst the rates increase will bring in £5 million.”
He went on: “It will not improve education, it will continue to wreck it; it will not decrease social inequality, it will strengthen the dogma of elitism.
He also said he was “utterly despondent” that he had supported the SNP in the last elections, adding, “this now appears to be a government that has rapidly changed from a socially democratic and ethical party into a body that is infatuated with control, dislikes dissent and is fixated on every element of society toeing the line.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said in the Scotland on Sunday: “As per the recommendations of the Barclay report, we propose to retain relief eligibility for special schools, but are giving further consideration to how we ensure that independent schools with exceptional circumstances — such as specialist music schools — continue to be eligible.
“We will continue to engage with the sector as we finalise the detail of our proposals, subject to which we intend to bring forward primary legislation to deliver this change by 2020 — as this is a change to non-domestic rating provision, rather than to charity law.
“This notice will allow time for those schools affected to plan ahead.”
Source : HeraldScotland