The Scottish government will remove all business rates relief for charitable private schools.
In yesterday’s Scottish Budget, the government said it was accepting recommendations from the Barclay Review to strip private schools of their 80 per cent mandatory relief on business rates and optional 20 per cent discretionary rate.
The Barclay Review was set up by the Scottish government to examine business rates and published its recommendations earlier this year.
The Scottish Budget says that from the 2020/21 financial year, independent schools will lose their business rate relief, although some special needs and specialist schools will retain their eligibility.
In an implementation plan published yesterday, the Scottish government says that it has taken steps to make independent schools ineligible for business rates relief because it is "unconvinced about the principle or the substance of the current arrangements".
John Edward, director of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools, said that the government’s announcement was "a backward step".
He said: "If followed through, this proposal will weaken and narrow the widening access programme and, most importantly, it will affect those accessing bursary assistance made possible by the rates relief.
"It is dispiriting to learn that the government considers independent schools and their parents alone are deserving of a targeted five-fold rates rise."
The Budget also says the Scottish government has rejected Barclay’s recommendation that universities have their business rate relief curtailed. Arm’s-length external organisations run by councils will also not lose their reliefs.
Changes to the income tax rates and bands in Scotland were also announced in the Budget, which is expected to have consequences for pay and Gift Aid for charities that operate in Scotland as well as the rest of the UK.