Page 10 - Independent Schools Magazine
P. 10

 End of the road for rates relief?
“Signi cant increase in
costs will be loaded on
to school budgets”
Dr Michael Carslaw, Headmaster of St Leonards School, St Andrews, Scotland, re ects on the news (reported in the last issue of ISM) that the Scottish Government intends to remove mandatory non-domestic rates relief from, exclusively, independent mainstream charitable schools.
I was very disheartened to learn that the Scottish Government
has accepted the Barclay Review Business Rates proposal with only limited modi cation.
As a result, out of over
24,000 registered charities in Scotland, around 50 or so have been singled out to have the mandatory charitable bene t
of 80% rates relief removed. These charities happen to be independent schools. All have uniquely passed the ‘charity
test’ to satisfy the Charity Regulator, OSCR, recognising that independent schools provide signi cant public bene t over and beyond the simple provision of education, and more than
enough, in their judgment, to maintain charitable status. A signi cant part of this bene t is the provision of means-tested fee remissions, as well as providing access to facilities and expertise in a broad range of activities. As a result of the OSCR test, there has been an enormous swing from non-means tested bene ts to means-tested bene ts. The independent sector has engaged fully and supportively in making this major change happen.
The Barclay Review outcome was unexpected and, from 2020, a signi cant increase in costs will be loaded on to school budgets. Schools will have to deal with
this in straightforward accounting
terms in order to balance the books. Arguments that the increase can simply be shared
out among fee-paying parents simply do not hold water. Schools will have to look closely at their costs and, if the bene t of rates relief goes, then inevitably there will be a knock on impact. For example, many schools exceed the OSCR expectation for means-tested support and other provision of bene t, going well above and beyond any statutory requirement. I am sure this aspect will be quite reasonably looked at carefully by schools concerned for the future.
St Leonards, situated in the heart of the ancient university
town of St Andrews, is proud
to promote Scotland as an intellectual hub: a destination
for world-class education
within a friendly and welcoming environment. The independent schools of Scotland are renowned for their high standards and breadth of opportunity. They are large employers and contribute enormously to the Scottish economy. Scottish Independent Schools are dedicated to promoting educational excellence. The schools, their employees and students are core parts of their local communities. As well as from Scotland, St Leonards welcomes boys and girls from all over the world and from an enormous range of cultures and backgrounds. This mix
of nationalities, backgrounds, experiences and friendships creates a unique and positive environment, which is immensely bene cial to all pupils, including those who, without  nancial support, would not be able to attend.
Providing an excellent education and instilling a love of learning are our primary purposes. We will not be diverted from this, but
the unintended consequences
of the Barclay Review will make this more complicated to achieve and draw an unnecessary division between us and other educators.
    10 Independent Schools Magazine
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