Date lodged: 22 August 2018
To ask the Scottish Government whether its position on rates relief for independent schools with charitable status is to recommend that local authorities instead of it should be responsible for implementing and funding the relief.
Answered by: Kate Forbes 6 September 2018
While we recognise the importance of the independent schools sector to the Scottish education system, the independent Barclay review highlighted that the current situation whereby independent schools benefit from reduced or zero rates bills through charitable relief, while Council run schools pay rates, was unfair and should be removed. Scottish Government accepted this recommendation and included proposals in the consultation which opened on 25 June aimed at removing eligibility for charity relief from all independent schools whilst ensuring due consideration is given to special schools and those with exceptional circumstances.
Scottish Ministers introduced new powers in the Community Empowerment Act 2015 providing local authorities with wide ranging flexibility to offer bespoke local business rate relief schemes. Councils are democratically elected independent bodies, that are accountable to their local electorate and it is for councils to determine how they prioritise their resources.