MP backs campaign to scrap ‘school uniform tax’

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An MP has criticised the Chancellor for failing to remove VAT on school uniform items during the Budget.

Martyn Day, the MP for Linlithgow and East Falkirk had joined 35 cross-party MPs and charities, led by industry body The Schoolwear Association, in signing an open letter calling for the ‘school uniform tax’ to be scrapped ahead of the spring Budget.

Since 1973, shoes and clothing for younger people, have been charged at a zero rate of VAT. However, clothing items for children aged 14 years or older, or those that are taller than average, are subjected to the full rate of 20 per cent VAT.

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Data from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health indicates that children are now taller and larger than previous generations, meaning parents are increasingly likely to be paying VAT on uniform items for their children before they reach the age of 14.

Martyn Day MP has called for the Chancellor to scrap the 'school uniform tax'Martyn Day MP has called for the Chancellor to scrap the 'school uniform tax'
Martyn Day MP has called for the Chancellor to scrap the 'school uniform tax'

The open letter, signed by leading children’s charities Barnardo’s, Child Poverty Action group, Family Fund, argued that VAT on school-specific items amounts to a ‘school uniform tax’ – disproportionately impacting working families with children above the age of 14, or those who are taller or larger than average.

Martyn Day said: "Educational experts have demonstrated conclusively that wearing a school uniform fosters a sense of pride and community and boosts academic attainment.

“Charging VAT on school uniforms amounts to a tax on young people's education, for which there can be no justification.

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“As the cost-of-living crisis refuses to loosen its grip on households, it’s a disgrace that the Chancellor refused to take this one essential step to make school uniforms more affordable for struggling families.

"We should be making it easier for parents and guardians to be able to afford uniforms, and that starts by removing VAT from sales."