MSPs to meet independent schools over plans to scrap charity rates relief

MSPs will meet senior figures from independent schools to discuss plans to scrap their ability to claim charitable relief from business rates.

Legislation going through the Scottish Parliament proposes changes to collection of non-domestic rates, known as business rates, in Scotland.

Among the most controversial is plans to drop charitable rate relief for mainstream independent schools.

Members of Holyrood’s lead committee on the Non-Domestic Rates Bill, the Local Government and Communities Committee, will meet representatives from independent schools at George Watson’s College, Edinburgh on Tuesday.

The host is one of the schools taking part, as are Kilgraston, Glasgow Academy, St Mary’s Music School, Hamilton College and Cargilfield.

John Edward, director of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools – which represents more than 70 schools, will also attend.

He has previously written to the committee opposing the change, arguing it runs the risk of narrowing access to independent schools, and would mean treating them differently from all other registered charities.

Local Government and Communities Committee chairman James Dornan said: “The NDR Bill seeks a number of changes to the current system but the proposal to end most independent schools’ right to charitable relief has undoubtedly captured much of the public attention.

“It is vital that the views of independent schools are heard as we continue to consider evidence on the Bill.

“The committee is always keen to get out and hear directly from those who may be impacted by new legislation, and the views provided will help inform the recommendations we make to the Scottish Government.”