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ELT schools “won’t be affected” by VAT policy

The Labour leader in the UK confirmed that English language schools will be exempt from VAT tax fees put in place by the party should it win the 2024 election, English UK has said.

The hike would have resulted in a 20% costs increase for language schools. Photo: Pexels

The association’s public affairs team helped send a letter to the office of Sir Keir Starmer

The association’s public affairs team helped send a letter to the office of Sir Keir Starmer asking for ELT schools not to be included with private schools in the introduction of VAT fees.

The team confirmed they received a reply in recent days.

“Labour’s policy would charge VAT on fees for registered independent schools.

“English Language Schools, if not registered as independent schools with the Department of Education, would not be affected,” the reply read. 

The move heralds a great victory for the ELT schools across the country, with English UK campaigning for some weeks after there was not clarity as to whether the VAT fee would apply to language schools.

This would have essentially resulted in a 20% hike that many would have difficulties dealing with – which membership director Huan Japes suggested would add salt to the wounds of the pandemic and fallout from Brexit – and put the UK at a disadvantage with its competitor countries. 

“Labour office’s confirmation that VAT fees won’t affect ELT schools comes as a sigh of relief.

“Such measures would severely harm the industry’s vitality in the UK and affect our competitiveness as a language study destination, which is already mistakenly perceived as less affordable compared to other ELT-providing countries,” confirmed Dirk Figureido, the global sales manager at Wimbledon School of English, speaking with The PIE.

Farhan Quraishi, CEO of SpeakUp London and chair of English UK, told The PIE the achievement “underscores the significance of collective advocacy efforts”.

“Special recognition is owed to English UK for its leadership in spearheading this campaign.

“By securing this exemption, ELT schools in the UK are better positioned to maintain their competitiveness and uphold the nation’s status as a premier destination for English language learning,” he added, highlighting how concerns Japes had mentioned will be much diminished amid the news.

Jamie Brailsford, director of operations at UK Language Courses, said on LinkedIn that the development was “great for our industry”.

“It proves how crucial it is that members are involved in our campaigning work”

“This news will continue to allow us to be able to reach many more students who want to enhance their lives on study travel holidays, who otherwise would not have been able to,” Brailsford added.

Will Nash, who is a member of the Executive Board at the English Language Teaching Centre at the University Sheffield, also called the news “very encouraging indeed”.

English UK also thanked its member association schools in the London constituency of Holborn and St Pancras, where Starmer is MP, for supporting the campaign – including Ben Toettcher of SKOLA English in London and Sue Rao of ABC School of English.

“This outcome not only safeguards the accessibility and quality of English language education but also reaffirms the importance of unified action in preserving the UK’s leadership in this vital sector,” Quraishi affirmed.

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