Local MP Andrew Stunell is working with a cross-party group of MPs in Westminster to urge the Secretary of State for Education to support the introduction of a VAT refund scheme for the 93 Sixth Form Colleges in England, including those in Stockport.
Commenting on the letter, Andrew Stunell MP said -
“MPs across the House feel strongly that it is wrong that Sixth Form Colleges like Marple and Aquinas have to pay VAT on purchases, when schools and academies with sixth forms can reclaim those costs. 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, and would make an enormous difference to the education of these young people. With the Budget in a couple of weeks it gives the Chancellor a final chance to put things right.”
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 MPs, who all represent constituencies which either contain or are served by a Sixth Form College, warn the Government that “the VAT anomaly threatens the success of a high performing sector”. The letter has been warmly welcomed by the Sixth Form Colleges’ Association that 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.
James Kewin, Deputy Chief Executive of the Sixth Form Colleges’ Association said:
“We are delighted that so many MPs from across the political divide are supporting our campaign to drop the learning tax. The money Sixth Form Colleges pay in VAT would be better spent on the front line education of young people. Students in sixth Form Colleges deserve the same investment in their education as their peers in school or academy sixth forms.”