Closed petition Make school uniform VAT exempt

Clothing for children aged 14 or older, or taller or larger than the average, is subject to a 20% VAT rate. This includes school uniforms. We are calling on the Government to abolish tax on school uniforms by scrapping VAT on all school-specific uniform items to bring down costs for families.

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Each family would make significant savings in clothing their child in school uniform across the lifetime of their time at school, at what is a relatively limited cost to the taxpayer. The timing is now right too to abolish this tax, as Brexit has given the country new tax freedoms which the Government should take advantage of.

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Government responded

This response was given on 3 April 2023

School uniform designed for children under 14 is VAT-free. This is when body dimensions begin to merge with the adult population. There are no plans to go further but we keep all taxes under review.

The Government believes that school uniforms should be affordable for parents. That is why, in November 2021, the Department for Education published statutory guidance on the cost of school uniforms, to which schools must have regard when designing and implementing their uniform policies. The guidance requires schools to ensure that their uniform is affordable and secures best value for money for parents, requiring schools among other things to keep branded items to a minimum (to allow parents choice on where to purchase items), make second-hand uniforms available for parents to acquire, and engage with parents and pupils on cost issues when developing uniform policy.

More widely, the Government has taken decisive action to support households with cost-of-living pressures. This includes maintaining the Energy Price Guarantee, which has reduced energy bills for millions of households, at £2,500 for a further three months. Overall, the government is providing total support of over £94 billion over 2022-23 and 2023- 24 to help households and individuals with the rising cost of living – an average of over £3,300 per UK household.

The UK is one of only two countries among the 37 OECD member countries to maintain a VAT relief for children’s clothing, which costs the exchequer £2 billion per year. It ensures that clothing and footwear, including school uniform, designed for young children less than 14 years of age benefits from a zero rate of VAT.

There would be no guarantees that through the extension of any relief, the benefits would be passed on by retailers to parents buying uniform for their children. The Government believes that the action already taken to ensure the affordability of school uniforms, alongside the wider financial support, are the best ways to support families deal with these cost-of-living pressures. We keep all taxes under review, but we have no plans to make changes to the VAT treatment of school uniforms.

HM Treasury