Election result heralds a new era for the education sector

  • 5th July 2024

Labour won the General Election with a landslide victory. Lauren Hurley / No 10 Downing Street

The Labour Party won a landslide victory in yesterday’s General Election, usurping the Conservatives and heralding a new era in UK politics.

Appearing before crowds of supporters in the capital today, Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, announced that ‘change begins now’.

And voters will undoubtedly be waiting to hear how the new shift in power will impact on the UK education system – one of the key drivers among voters.

From the point of view of the estate, in particular, the party will need to ensure a hefty increase in capital funding if it is to deal with pressing issues such as the RAAC crisis and the crippling backlog maintenance challenge.

And, with plans to increase early years provision across the country, there is expected to be added pressure on the property market as investors wait to hear how manifesto pledges will be actioned.

Commenting on the election outcome, Courteney Donaldson, managing director of childcare and education at Christie & Co, told Education Property: “At the Labour Party Conference in Autumn 2023, Bridget Phillipson [the new Secretary of State for Education] made it clear that the Labour Party would work tirelessly to end profiteering across the children’s social care sector.

“Labour has pledged over 3,000 new nursery classes across England to open up access to childcare hours for families, with spare school classrooms to be converted into high-quality spaces for nurseries.

“While this could increase capacity, in a typical school classroom it is not necessarily an appropriate space for a nursery-aged child – inadequate toilet facilities, access to direct age-appropriate outdoor access, sleep areas, etc.

“Equally, it is of the utmost importance that services are not duplicated.

“It remains to be seen how the intended creation of new provisions will work in practice.

“Also, given the commitment that Labour has made regarding the removal of VAT breaks for private schools, it is to be expected that there may well be a significant increase in demand for places from pupils transitioning from independent schools thus, where these unused classrooms are set to be repurposed, such space may no longer remain available.”

She added: “Governments over the past 20-25 years have failed to acknowledge the importance of early childhood education – how it benefits children, working parents, and those in education or training, nor the forward-looking benefits and economic prospects for our country as a whole. So, Labour’s pledges to ‘support staff working in childcare and education so they are recognised for the important work…’ is vital.

“There hasn’t been any detail on how they will do this yet.

“Labour also pledged in its manifesto to commit to the ‘enhanced entitlements’ the Government has offered.

“Further clarity is needed on whether they will commit to increasing the rates in line with inflation in the future, something that historically has not happened.

“One final point that is important for owners to bear in mind, is the potential for changes to Capital Gains Tax in the future.

“While Labour has pledged not to increase Corporation Tax, Income Tax, National Insurance, or VAT, they have not explicitly ruled out increasing the rate at which capital gains are taxed, and it would not be unreasonable to suggest this could come into focus either in their first Autumn Statement or, more likely, at next year’s Spring Budget.”

Keep Updated

Sign up to our weekly property newsletter to receive the latest news.