Green Party would take charitable status away from private schools

Its manifesto says it would put £2.5bn behind local finance providers such as credit unions

The Green Party says it would strip private schools of their charitable status if it came into power.

The party's manifesto, Fair is Worth Fighting For, which was published today, says it would plough £2.5bn into supporting a network of local finance providers, such as community banks and credit unions.

It would also create a non-compulsory volunteering programme aimed at every young person under the age of 18 and provide more support for charities delivering public services.

The party says it would work towards ending the need for private education by creating a programme of voluntary assimilation of private schools into the state sector.

"Schools that remain in the private sector would have charitable status removed and would pay all relevant taxes, such as VAT," it says.

The party says it would work to encourage a "new, local and mutual financial sector, based on trust rather than greed, and including community banks, credit unions, local exchange schemes and local currencies.

"We would provide initial funding of £2.5bn over the next parliament to assist communities in setting up such a network," it says.

The manifesto says the government must provide more support for voluntary sector organisations to provide public services. The state "relies too much on the private and voluntary sectors for the provision of public goods and services.

"The voluntary sector is a tremendous source of good, but it sometimes lacks resources and influence," it says. "So while we back the private and voluntary sectors, they will not achieve a fair and sustainable society on their own."

In her foreword to the manifesto, Green Party leader Caroline Lucas criticises Conservative plans.

"The financial crisis has torn the veil from the Tories' ‘compassionate conservatism'," she says. "They will let the market rip, roll back the state and hope that the voluntary sector will pick up the pieces."

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