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private schools told shared facilities are enough for tax breaks after all

5 July 2012

Six months after the Upper Tribunal ruling that the Charity Commission’s guidance on the public benefit of private schools was flawed, the Commission has begun a consultation on its new draft guidance.

Originally the Independent Schools Council (“ISC”) argued that the Charity Commission’s original guidance focused too heavily on the benefit of financial scholarships for poorer students and devalued the sharing of facilities, loaning of staff and exchange of students with state schools. In return the Commission argued that “minimal and tokenistic” activities would not be sufficient to pass the public benefit test and that charities which failed the test risked losing their charitable tax benefits.

The revised guidance acknowledges both arguments and provides examples of acceptable activities which include providing bursaries and the sharing of facilities.

The consultation on the draft guidance runs until the end of September and will no doubt be scrutinised by the ISC and its members during that time and afterwards.

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