Private sector, or at least charitable status, schools receive a discount upon their business rates bills:
Private schools are set to get tax rebates totalling £522m over the next five years as a result of their controversial status as charities, according to a study of local council records.
Charitable organisations in England and Wales are entitled to relief of 80% on the business rates payable on the buildings they use, and some of the country’s best-known private schools qualify under the rules.
State sector schools do not. But then of course that's just a budget merry go around as the local authority handles the funding for said schools and then collects the money back again through the budget process. Yes, it is right that things owned and run by the state pay such taxes, just as we charge the Armed Forces for the spectrum they must have. Just the budget line, even if it is just shuffling, does concentrate minds on whether quite so much of something is needed.
But we do think this is a good idea this discount:
CVS said Eton College, whose former pupils include David Cameron and Boris Johnson, would have faced a bill of £4.1m for business rates over the next five years without its charitable status, but instead it would pay just £821,040.
Dulwich College in south London, which educated former Ukip Leader Nigel Farage, will only pay £786,752 out of its £3,933,760 five-year bill under the tax regime.
Leeds grammar school, which offers extensive sports facilities on a campus of nearly 60 hectares (140 acres), will only pay £826,016 out of its £4,130,080 five-year bill.
There is just that basic rule of law idea of course. If charities don't pay full business rates then charities don't pay full business rates. Such deals, breaks or subsidies do not apply just to those charities which you approve of nor should they be denied them because you don't. If x structure or activity is to be taxed in y manner then x structure or activity is taxed in y manner, whatever the hell you think about it, that's what the rule of law means.
But we would add one other point. The Grammar School at Leeds, as it is now, educates some 1,500 pupils a year. That relieves the local authority of, at the roughly about right £5,000 a year per pupil cost of state schools (that price is arguable, as the usual calculation doesn't include either the capital budget nor the pensions), costs of some £7.5 million a year. Or, over the 5 year period being talked about, £37,500,000. That seems worth a less than 10% of the savings break on the tax bill, doesn't it?
At which point we should note that the state makes a vast, gargantuan, profit out of the existence of private schools. So why are people whining about the trivia of the tax bill?