Parents could be quids in if campaigners manage to overturn an ‘unjust’ tax, which has been supported by the EU.
Brexit could mean a revival of the fight against VAT on children’s school uniform, a tax branded “unjust” by the Schoolwear Association.
A campaign to reduce VAT on certain school clothes gathered momentum back in 2007, but despite receiving widespread support, it was thwarted by EU rules on tax.
“We received a lot of support from the public and from MPs. We got all the way to Brussels but it was an EU ruling and there was nothing more we could do,” said Linda Painter, executive member of the Schoolwear Association.
“We are debating, internally, whether post-Brexit, once we are back making our own laws, if we should look at this again.”
Currently, VAT is payable on clothes for children 14 and older, including school uniforms, but the campaign called for a 5% reduction on all school clothes carrying a logo.
“We argued that if a garment has a logo on it, it cannot be considered leisurewear,” said Linda.
“VAT on school clothes is unfair. If you have children who do not fit the norm, if they are taller or bigger than their peers, they need larger clothes.”
The logic behind the cut off at 14 is that smaller adults should not be able to avoid the tax by buying children’s clothes – a point the Schoolwear Association argues is irrelevant when talking about logo-bearing school uniforms.
Asked if parents could achieve similar savings by schools simply setting generic uniforms, Linda said there were many benefits to school-specific clothing.
“Most schools are very sensible. We encourage them to have a mix of garments, some with a logo, because that helps with identity, and some generic, that parents can get from anywhere,” she said.
“When we see figures frequently quoted in the media that school uniforms can cost around £500, we do not recognise them.”
A study of 100 schools, carried out by the association, found the average cost to be £33.48 for a full primary or £88.05 for a full secondary school uniform.
Linda said: “That’s 45p a day and we think that’s really good value, especially when you compare it to a pair of Nike trainers or a Jack Wills sweatshirt. Children tend to wear their uniforms for longer than seven hours a day.”
There were added benefits to branded school uniform, she went on, such as pride and identity.
“We think it is a leveller. If you are in school uniform there are no ‘rich kids’ and ‘poor kids’, at least not in terms of clothes. That’s very useful and helps with problems like bullying,” said Linda.
“Pride in your school and recognition are also really important. The headteacher uses uniform to prepare children for life.”
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