Steve Brine MP

for Winchester & Chandler's Ford

11 FEB 2015

Steve Brine MP urges rethink on Sixth Form VAT anomaly

Winchester & Chandler's Ford MP Steve Brine is among those leading calls in Parliament for the introduction of a VAT refund scheme for Sixth Form colleges.

At present, school and academy sixth forms have their VAT costs refunded by the Government, while Sixth Form Colleges do not. As a result, the average Sixth Form College has to redirect £335,000 of its annual funding away from the front line education of students to pay VAT.

The MP joined colleagues including Conservative Graham Stuart, the Chairman of the Education Select Committee, in writing to Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education, urging her to support the campaign.

Steve Brine has warned the Government that "the VAT anomaly threatens the success of a high performing sector", and the campaign has been warmly welcomed by the Sixth Form Colleges' Association, which published a survey last year indicating that 68% of its members had dropped courses and 71% had reduced enrichment activities (such as drama, music and sport) because of funding pressures.

Steve Brine said: "I have spoken to local Principals, and teachers, about this, and we agree it is wrong that Sixth Form Colleges still have to pay VAT, when schools and academies can reclaim those costs. I strongly feel that young people should receive the same level of investment in their education, irrespective of where they choose to study.

"It would cost around £30 million per year to ensure students in Sixth Form Colleges are treated fairly, a comparatively modest sum for central government that would make an enormous difference to the education of these young people, particularly those in my constituency studying at Peter Symonds' and Barton Peveril.

"These are difficult times for sixth form colleges and this would be a significant help."

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