Private schools should be taxed in the same way as dining in a restaurant or buying a washing machine, the shadow chancellor argued.
Rachel Reeves defended the Labor Party’s plans to introduce a new tax on independent schools if elected and promised that “every penny” of tax revenue would go to fund state education.
The party has upheld Jeremy Corbyn’s policy of removing the charity status of private schools and claims this would raise £1.7bn as the institutions would lose their 20 per cent VAT exemption and have to pay commercial rates.
During Ring Rachel’s first monthly phone call on LBC, a caller asked: “How the hell can Labor even think of taxing private school fees when people are suffering from the cost of living crisis?”
Ms Reeves said: “You walk into any public school and you see staff shortages, book shortages… Politics is about choice and private schools are many things, but I don’t think they are charities.
“And I don’t see why you shouldn’t pay VAT when you send your child to a private school in the same way you pay VAT if you take your family out to eat at the weekend.
‘If you pay to go private, you have to pay VAT’
When pressed by presenter Iain Dale about whether she was comparing a child’s education to dining out, Ms Reeves replied: “What I’m saying is you’re paying for a service, you’re paying for something… there are public schools that they provide education and if you are paying to be private you should pay VAT.
“You pay VAT on a holiday, on a washing machine… A washing machine, most people wouldn’t say [it] it’s a luxury, but you pay 20 percent VAT when you buy one. We would use every penny of [the] money and put it into our state schools.
While Labor has insisted that it does not want to abolish private schools altogether, Rishi Sunak has called its policy an attack on “aspiration.”
Ulez a ‘balancing act’
Elsewhere on the programme, Ms Reeves described the ultra-low emission zone introduced by Sadiq Khan, London’s Labor mayor, as a “tough balancing act”.
Asked what she thought about politics, she said: “That’s not my job and I’m not an MP for London. But I understand why Sadiq wants to have clean air in London because people are dying from pollution and air.” . pollution, so we can’t stay with the status quo.
On a day when nurses and ambulance workers took part in the biggest strike the NHS has ever seen, Ms Reeves was also asked what she thought about the current wave of industrial action.
“I don’t want to say that I support strikes because strikes are a sign of failure,” he said. “If Labor were in government today, I would be doing everything in my power to avoid a strike, and that means avoiding the negotiating table.”
However, he refused to commit to another caller’s request for tax cuts for public sector workers, citing the turbulence caused by the mini-budget last year.
“I’m not committing to losing tax revenue, or spending commitments, without explaining where the money will come from, because that’s the mess the last prime minister, Liz Truss, got herself into, where she left us.”