Campaigning & lobbying

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 Last updated: Wednesday 22 July 2020   

Campaigning for business rates relief for UK ELT 

The UK ELT sector is facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the voice of the sector, we continue to call on the Government to include all of the UK's ELT centres in the Business Rates Relief scheme. Without this relief, many schools will be lost along with the jobs that they support and other benefits they bring to the UK. Please sign our petition:

Mixed messages from government

On Tuesday 17 March 2020, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that business rates relief would be applied to all businesses in UK's hospitality and leisure industries. However, many of the 400+ English language teaching centres across the UK are unable to access this relief due to an absurd and arbitrary interpretation of the scheme.

A small but growing list of councils are offering the rates relief package to English UK members.

English UK initially found support from the Local Government Authority in a statement published on their website interpreting the scheme in favour of providing support for English language teaching centres. This advice has since been removed, adding to the confusion and frustration felt by an industry that feels overlooked by central government. 

English UK's plea: extend relief unequivocally

Around the country members tell heart-breaking stories of family businesses facing permanent closure as their large business rates bills keep coming. ELT centres have high rates as they need large buildings to accommodate classrooms, and they deserve full government support to ensure their survival.

As an industry, we contribute hugely to the soft power enjoyed by the UK overseas. People want to study English in the home of the language, and they want to spend their money on exploring the region they choose to study in. Our students support jobs, families and local businesses and then they go home and tell the world how great the UK can be. To be able to rebound from this and contribute again to the growth of the UK economy, our members need this relief, and they need it now. 

Support from MPs

Covid-19's effect on UK ELT was discussed in Parliament on 2 July, as MPs representing ELT centres warmly praised the industry and asked the Government to extend business rates relief and other support measures. Read more+


Latest lobbying activities for this campaign:

  • We briefed MPs and urged members to contact their representatives ahead of the Parliamentary tourism debate on 10 September. Bath MP Wera Hobhouse spoke on our behalf. Read more+
  • In August our government petition was accepted: Extend business rates relief to include every English language teaching school. Sign and share our petition.
  • On Friday 1 May 2020 we issued a statement on our joint letter to the Chancellor, a letter from eight tourism, English language teaching and transport trade assocations as well as the Local Government Association. The letter asked Chancellor Rishi Sunak to urgently change civil servants' interpretation of his Coronavirus Business Rates Relief Scheme.
  • We raised the issue on 14 May in a meeting with Graham Stuart MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Exports) at the Department for International Trade, now responsible for the education sector.

Support our campaign

We are acutely aware that MPs and Councillors pay most attention to their own constituents. We urge members to ask their representatives to lobby on this issue, particularly if the MP is a Conservative. 

Councils reported to be providing some form of Business Rates Relief to English UK member centres:

Last updated: Wednesday 17 June 2020 (Bradford Metropolitan District Council added)

  • Bath and North East Somerset Council
  • City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council
  • Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council
  • Brighton & Hove City Council
  • Canterbury City Council
  • Cardiff Council (Cyngor Caerdydd)
  • Cheshire West and Chester Council
  • Ealing Council
  • Folkestone and Hythe District Council
  • Harrow Council
  • Lewes and Eastbourne Councils
  • Newcastle City Council
  • North Devon Council
  • Stratford upon Avon District council
  • Torbay Council
  • Warwick District Council
  • City of York Council

Read about our other campaigning work