Posts Tagged ‘land value tax’

Lifting the stamp duty threshold would help Labour to be the party of aspiration

04/03/2014, 02:32:35 PM

by Callum Anderson

A couple of weeks ago, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released its latest data on UK property prices. For anyone, particularly young people, who aspire to getting themselves onto the property ladder, the data did not make good reading. It showed that house prices in December were 5.7 per cent higher across the UK compared with a year earlier, predominately driven by a 12.3 per cent increase in London.

Indeed, the average property in the UK will now set you back a cool £250,000. For people looking to settle in London or South East England (which as a result of the unbalanced UK economy and jobs market is a substantial proportion), this rises to £450,000 and £306,000 respectively.

But what would that even buy you these days?

Save for the rare gem that quite probably requires a lot of work, a £300,000 property (be it a house or a flat) in London or South East England is likely to be only a fairly modest 3-bedroom semi of the type to which many young families will aspire. Yet, the stamp duty bill on this purchase will be £9000, equal to several months’ entire after-tax pay for average earners.

This has resulted in the government pocketing £16.6 billion in stamp duty tax since 2010.


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If Labour wants to tackle inequality, it’s a land value tax, not the 50p rate that’s needed

29/01/2014, 08:48:37 PM

by Callum Anderson

Anyone who read Oxfam’s report this week, which revealed that the 85 richest people in the world possess the same level of wealth as the poorest half of the global population, would have been  shocked at the magnitude of global inequality. Things aren’t much better here in Britain. Just 189,000 families (roughly 0.6 per cent of the UK population) own two-thirds of the UK’s 60 million acres.

The what-who-how much elements of taxation are ones which have always been fiercely contested by Labour, Conservatives (oh, and Lib Dems) alike. However, as wages stagnate, the gap between rich and poor grow larger by the year, Labour should grab the initiative in this debate. However, instead of pursuing a somewhat one-dimensional tax policy in calling for the return of the 50p tax rate post-2015, the two Eds could, and must, be bolder in laying out a plan that not only yields the most revenue, but also begins to adequately address the inequality that stains our society. But one thing is clear – heavily taxing income is likely not an efficient way of doing this; instead, it is wealth that any future government must concentrate on.

As that great redistributionist, Winston Churchill, put it speaking in the House of Commons in 1909:

“Roads are made, streets are made, services are improved, electric light turns night into day, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles off in the mountains – and all the while the landlord sits still. Every one of those improvements is effected by the labour and cost of other people and the taxpayers. To not one of those improvements does the land monopolist, as a land monopolist, contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of his land is enhanced. He renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to the general welfare, he contributes nothing to the process from which his own enrichment is derived … the unearned increment on the land is reaped by the land monopolist in exact proportion, not to the service, but to the disservice done.”


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Austerity isn’t inevitable. Labour needs to be bolder on the alternative

08/04/2013, 01:07:55 PM

by Matthew Whittley

We have grown familiar with Tory backbencher’s frustration at the reality of coalition government that prevents them from delivering the yet deeper cuts to social security that a Conservative manifesto would likely call for. So much so that it’s easy to forget just how radical this government has been on welfare. The austerity driven assault on the poor has started to gather pace, with the first raft of welfare reforms already implemented.

This month, the vital link between benefits and inflation will be broken. With inflation remaining at close to 3%, the 1% cap on the uprating of benefits will make it even harder for those families already struggling to keep pace with the rising cost of living. Furthermore, the ending of full council tax rebate is forcing two million low-income households to contribute hundreds of pounds to their council tax – a tax that, until now, they have been considered too poor to pay.

This appears to have gone largely under the radar. One cut that has attracted substantial media attention is the introduction of under-occupancy charges for 660,000 social housing tenants – what’s been dubbed the ‘bedroom tax’. Those with a spare bedroom are having to deal with cuts to their housing benefit of, on average, £56 a month. As well as reducing the housing benefit bill, the government argues that this policy has been designed to make the best use of housing stock. Unfortunately, there aren’t anywhere near enough small properties to move people into.

This is especially the case in the North. Teeside based housing association Coast and Country Housing, for example, has 1,800 tenants classed as under-occupying, but they have only two one-bed properties available to let. People are being sanctioned for not moving into smaller houses that don’t exist.


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