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End charitable status for private schools, says new poll

6 October 2009

Ahead of David Willett's Conservative Party conference speech, poll shows Tory voters split over tax breaks

The majority of British people (56%) wants private schools to lose their charitable status and the Treasury to spend the £100m it would receive on improving education for the neediest in society, according to a poll released today from YouGov, conducted on behalf of UCU.

'I was astounded to discover that private schools were benefiting to the tune of £100m a year in tax breaks'
Sally Hunt
UCU general secretary

 

Ahead of David Willetts' keynote speech to the Conservative Party conference on 7 October, the union said that abolishing charitable status for schools like Eton and Harrow would raise £100 million a year and could fund 20,000 additional university places.
 
Although supporters of all the political parties backed the move, there was a clear split amongst people who said they would vote Conservative. Two in five (41%) Conservative voters backed the calls for the schools to lose their charitable status, but a similar amount (40%) opposed the move.
 
The views of Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters are more straightforward.  Nearly three-quarters of Labour supporters (72%) and over half (56%) of Liberal Democrats supporters back the ending of private schools' charitable status.
 
The key findings of the poll include:

  • 56% of British adults think charitable status for private schools should be abolished and the income generated should be spent on improving access to education for those who need it most. 23% do not
  • 41% of Conservative voters agree that charitable status should end and the income generated should be spent on improving access to education for those who need it most
  • 40% of Conservative supporters said that charitable status should remain, 15% questioned said they neither agreed nor disagreed. 5% said they didn't know
  • nearly three-quarters of Labour voters (72%) agreed that charitable status should be abolished for private schools. 11% said it should remain
  • 56% of Liberal Democrats agreed that charitable status should be abolished. 21% said it should remain.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'I was astounded to discover that private schools were benefiting to the tune of £100m a year in tax breaks while the country was supposedly unable to find funds to pay for university places for thousands of students. The poll shows that people across the political spectrum agree with me that in a time of recession every pound of taxpayers' money we spend on our children's education should be to the benefit of the many, not the few.'
 
The full results can downloaded here:  (.pdf) file type icon YouGov - private schools survey results (.pdf) [59kb]

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