Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP, Murdo Fraser, has slammed the SNP for advising independent schools to appeal to local authorities for financial support after the Scottish Government removed business rates relief for the sector.
In a letter to the Kilgraston school in Perthshire, the Finance Secretary advised the all-girls' school to petition Perth and Kinross Council for rates relief under the Community Empowerment Bill despite the SNP cutting the council’s budget last year.
It was warned that removing the charitable status of independent schools would result in reduced bursaries to widen access and higher costs for parents. Murdo believes it’s scandalous to ask cash-strapped councils to pick up the pieces and foot the bill for a disastrous Scottish Government policy.
Commenting, Murdo Fraser MSP said:
“Back when the Scottish Government introduced this policy, we warned that it would increase strain on the state sector and reduce the generous bursaries that help widen access.
“It would appear as though John Swinney shares these concerns; pity he voted for this policy along with the rest of the SNP.
“It is scandalous for Derek Mackay, the Finance Secretary, to suggest that local councils pick up the tab to mitigate this policy after their budgets have been slashed by the Scottish Government.
“Perth and Kinross Council’s budget has been reduced thanks to Derek Mackay and it is high time that the Scottish Government stopped passing the buck and took a second look at a policy that is set to short-change pupils, parents and councils.”