In questions set aside for the Church Commissioners in Parliament today (Thursday 11th January), Michael Fabricant asked about proposals to force Cathedral – and other private – schools, like Lichfield Cathedral School, to pay business rates, lose the benefits of their charitable status, and charge VAT on their school fees. Michael says “I am told that many private schools would be forced to close and that Lichfield Cathedral School would find it a very difficult business environment in which to operate. Pupils in many schools will have to move into the State system putting pressure on class numbers and the ancient choral tradition taught in Cathedral Schools could be lost.”
In the House of Commons, Michael Fabricant asked Andrew Selous MP representing the Church Commissioners: “My Hon Friend will know that cathedral schools, like Lichfield Cathedral School, play an important part in providing young choristers for cathedrals. But they are very concerned that if in the future they are forced to charge 20% on their fees, and possibly losing their charitable status, they may no longer be viable. What assessment has the Commissioners made about the effects of such a change?”
Andrew Selous answered: “I can tell my Hon Friend that there is a concern that cathedral schools may not be able to afford to pay business rates, and if the payment of business rates and the addition of VAT on fees caused choir schools to close, this would be an issue for a number of cathedrals.”
Michael now says: “Andrew Selous’ answer is typically understated. If a Cathedral School had to close, it would be a lot more than ‘an issue’ for the relevant cathedral: it would be devastating. It would also be very damaging to the education of the children who would have to move to another school.”
These proposals for change have been made by the Labour Party.