Every now and then, Labour give us a timely reminder of why we should never vote for them. Today's insult to the intelligence is a bit of class war waged by a man named Tristram. Mr Hunt (apparently a Dr) thinks that private schools haven't done enough to help the state sector, and thus should lose their "£700m subsidy" of business rate relief.
I always resent it when a politician pretends that refraining from taxation amounts to a subsidy, as though they have a God-given right to pillage where they see fit. Schools (public and private) are exempt from business rates, not so much because they are charities but because they are not businesses. Education has long been recognised in law as a "charitable purpose" and anything done for a charitable purpose is not a business purpose. To be equitable, business rates should not depend upon ownership, and to apply business rates to independent schools but not state schools would be highly dubious practice, particularly when the independent schools were subject to a different basis of assessment (helping out other schools) than the state schools.
The real iniquity is that this simply passing the burden and responsibility for state education on to the independent schools, or more correctly, on to those who pay their fees. They already pay income tax and other taxes, they pay their children's school fees (saving the state the cost of doing so), they may even make donations to the schools’ bursary fund and now Labour thinks they should prop up failing state schools.
Every school is different, and some independent schools will add up the cost of their bursaries, scholarships and ‘community outreach’ work, compare that to their potential business rates and say, ‘sod it’. The ensuing silence will only be broken by the slow hand claps for the class warriors of the Labour Party.