Business rate rises coming into effect in April could push some school budgets to ‘breaking point’, the BBC reports.
Calculations by consultancy Gerald Eve suggest that the increases to the rateable value of schools, could mean a 40 percent rise in some cases.
‘Council-run schools worst affected’
Andrew Altman, a specialist schools partner at Gerald Eve, says that council-run schools would be especially affected compared to academies, as the latter have their costs met by central government.
The total rates bill for schools in England is estimated at £791 million. Gerald Eve predict this could rise to £922 million by 2021-22 as business rate rises come into effect.
Many schools are expected to appeal their new rates. However, Altman questioned why schools are charged business rates at all.
“It’s circular. It’s all public money. It’s a very expensive tax to collect and appeal,” he added.
Russell Hobby, National Association of Head Teachers’ general secretary, said a sharp increase in business rates would “add to the perfect storm school leaders are experiencing.
“It cannot be right that more and more of the money to schools is being taken back to central and local government,” he commented.
Mr Hobby said schools were being over-burdened with funding cuts and increased financial liabilities. Earlier this year it was announced that schools would have to take on apprentices and pay into the government’s apprenticeship levy from April this year. Staff insurance and pension contributions are also an added pressure.
“This burden on schools is becoming too much,” he added, urging the chancellor to “act in next month’s Budget to ensure schools have the resources they need”.
The Department for Education say the recent estimates are not fully reflective of the revaluation of business rates. “A revaluation of business rates means nearly three-quarters of properties will see no change or a fall in their bills,” said a spokesman.