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An interesting little thought on VAT on school fees

Will they top up the military and diplomatic allowances to account for VAT?

As you may or may not know one of the grand perks of military and diplomatic life is getting the private – boarding – school fees paid. It used to be, assume still is, 100% for the diplomats and 75%, maybe 85%, for the military. Because, posted abroad, we don’t run a system of secondary schools across the world (don’t have the numbers to do so, tho’ we certainly used to have some primary scchools run by the RAF, I went to one) with the English curriculum.


So, VAT is put on school fees. Have Labour thought through whether they will now up the allowances to pay the VAT? My best guess is that they’ve not even thought about it because they’re ignorant of the issue itself.

And this will matter. Take an entirely invented but not wholly unusual example. Perfectly reasonable officer (and senior NCOs could well fit this too, school fees are paid for non-officers’ kids) but who is topping out at Major or equivalent. Not one of life’s potential generals that is. Being paid £60-£80k, it’s that sort of range these days.

Marries late 20s, three kids in quickish succession. At one point all three in school (13 to 18). The school fees are more than pay – £90k, easily. Now add VAT – £18k. That’s a hell of a dent in £60k. Changes the calculation about being in.

Yes, obviously this is extreme. But there really are – is a group of – those who know they’ve missed the promotion years. But who stay in because the fees get paid. And when the fees are no longger necessary, the youngest passes 18, then they leave. They’ve got to go by 55, but they might go at 46, 49, whatever, depends on the fertility thing.

This is even checkable. Look at the retirement ages of those outside the promotion years (think it’s within 10 years of making Major, you don’t get next step ahead by then you’re not going to? About that, -ish) and see how many drop out before 55. Look at the pattern there.

My bet is that the Diplomats will definitely get this paid. The military, well, who knows? It’ll definitely be a big change in terms of service if they don’t.

My other, and much firmer, bet is that Labour haven’t thought about this because they don’t know.

4 thoughts on “An interesting little thought on VAT on school fees”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    Of course they haven’t thought about it because it’s nothing to do with rising money it’s just the Green-eyed Monster talking.

  2. Puh-leeze, Tim. It’s a well known fact that politicians, especially Labour ones, are omniscient when it comes to such things. Well, apart from Jeremy Corbyn, who made the totally understandable little slip up on his tax return because he thought the state pension wasn’t taxable.

    But lessons have been learned! Etc. etc.

  3. What difference will it make? Charge VAT, pay money in extra allowances. Zero sum.

    My dad was a Major for nineteen years after being non-commissioned for the same amount of time. None of his five kids went to boarding school. thank God.

  4. Waddayamean, put kids in boarding school? Wifey should stay back in Blighty and raise the sprogs in the local state comp.

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