New polling from Ipsos, conducted from the 13-18 October, shows that the majority of the public (57%) support the Labour party’s proposal to end the VAT exemption offered to private schools if they win the next election. Just under one in five (18%) oppose the policy.
The policy has greater support among 2019 Labour voters, where four in five (78%) are in favour of it. However, even among 2019 Conservative voters, nearly half (47%) support it, compared to a third (32%) who oppose it.
As shown below, when faced with arguments in favour of Labour’s policy to end VAT exemption, half or more found each of them convincing. In particular, persuasive arguments were that it is not fair to have tax breaks that only benefit children of the well-off (74%), they should not have been exempt in the first place (73%) and that the money raised could be used to improve the state sector (72%).
Opinion was more divided on the arguments against Labour’s policy to end VAT exemptions for private schools. As shown below, the only argument which the majority found convincing, was that the policy would not raise enough money to fix all the problems in state schools. They are most unconvinced by the argument the policy is only being introduced out of jealousy (66% unconvincing).
The Labour party had previously committed to stripping private schools of their charitable status but have since reversed their position. Around half the public oppose (49%) private schools being able to register as charities, while one in five (20%) support this.
We asked parents of children under the age of eighteen, if they would send their child(ren) to private school if they could afford it. Despite the support for ending the VAT exemption earlier in the poll, opinion was split. Around half (48%) said they would definitely or probably not send their child to a private school, while the other half said they would (46%).
Ipsos Director of Politics Keiran Pedley says of the poll’s findings:
The majority of the public back Labour’s proposal to end private schools’ VAT exemption – including nearly half of 2019 Conservative voters. They are most convinced by arguments around fairness and that private schools should not have been exempt from VAT in the first place, although there is still concern that more funding will be needed to improve Britain’s state schools.
Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 2,036 GB adults aged 18-75. Interviews were conducted online from 13-18 October 2023. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.
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