Parents face potential £3,800 increase in bill to support children with special educational needs under Labour government 

As the General Election approaches, parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) may encounter financial strain if Labour’s proposed policies take effect.

HCB Solicitors, experts in Education Law, urge families to apply for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) as soon as possible to protect their children’s education and avoid potential costs.

Labour’s manifesto includes plans to remove VAT exemptions for private schools, impacting families, especially those relying on private education for SEND children. If this policy is implemented, private schools may add a 20% VAT on current fees, potentially costing families an additional £3,800 per year. However, Labour have made clear that those pupils with an EHCP will be exempt from this VAT increase, ensuring their fees remain unaffected.

Labour have also recently indicated that private schools should look to avoid passing this VAT increase onto parents, although it is unclear how this can be achieved with many smaller schools having minimal to no profit and several more specialist independent placements holding charitable status.

Many parents choose private schools for their SEND children due to their smaller learning environments. Without an EHCP, families might struggle with higher costs, risking disruptions to their child’s education.

There is a wide spread perception that it is ‘impossible’ to obtain an EHCP, which has further encouraged families to simply pay for the school, rather than try to access support through the EHCP route. This perception is often the result of misinformation shared through local authority SEN teams and distilled into mainstream schools.

According to the Independent Schools Council (ISC), 111,154 SEND pupils are in private schools, yet only 7,646 have EHCPs. EHCPs ensure local authority support for private school funding and exempt families from the additional VAT charges.

Potential VAT changes could spike EHCP applications, straining the already overwhelmed SEND Tribunal. HCB Solicitors urges immediate action for those needing EHCPs to mitigate financial impact and protect their child’s educational future.

Ed Duff, Education Lawyer and Director at HCB Solicitors said: “This change to the education system could have huge ramifications for families of children with special educational needs. Many have taken the decision to place in smaller independent schools because their children could not cope in mainstream education. This increase in costs is highly likely to affect those children and families.

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