Sixth form college VAT refund hopes dashed

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Sixth form colleges’ hopes of obtaining a VAT refund have not materialised.

According to the FE Week, Michael Gove has admitted that the funding was not available from the chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne.

Currently, all the sixth form and further education colleges in England pay VAT on goods and services while schools and academies are reimbursed. The Sixth Form College Association (SFCA) has been campaigning to change this and has called the decision “senseless”.

James Kewin, SFCA deputy chief executive, said: “We are very disappointed that the government has decided not to address this longstanding anomaly, particularly when year-on-year funding cuts are pushing some sixth form colleges to breaking point.”

A group of MPs wrote to Mr Gove in an attempt to change this VAT issue, which is believed to cost colleges up to £30 million annually. This expenditure has forced some colleges to abandon certain courses such as modern foreign languages and further maths, due to funding cuts.

Mr Gove said that as much as he would like to change the VAT situation for sixth form colleges, the money situation was “tight”.