Campaigning for justice about the fair sharing of UK land with all UK citizens is difficult for Christians when the Church of England is a culprit

5 August 2019
Dear all, 

You might have seen a letter from a Dr Neil J Young in The Guardian this morning replying to mine of the 2nd August. I am showing below my reply offered for publication.

In the general scheme of campaigning an averse reaction is welcome because it keeps the debate going. 

Best wishes, 
Yet again ministers wheel out nonsense and denial to justify the inhuman policy of denying a third child a benefit income. “This policy ensures fairness by asking families receiving benefits to face the same financial choices as families supporting themselves solely through work,” says a government spokesperson. It all depends on whether you own or rent your home. Most homeowners, with increased, unearned, untaxed equity in their property, have many more financial choices to make in employment and unemployment than renters with none. The very rich can even pass land on to their three or four children tax free. It is only in the UK that renters are paying the landlords’ property tax, which we call council tax, while the landlords bask in their villas in the south of France.
Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty 
The Rev Paul Nicolson makes an argument about the tax arrangements of homeowners and landlords (Letters, 2 August). Clergy who have provided homes and own a second home are able to claim council tax relief, thus depriving councils of revenue. That’s before one considers the vast wealth, property and untaxed income of the established church. Render unto Caesar indeed.
Dr Neil J Young
Pennsylvania, United States  
MY RESPONSE sent to The Guardian
I am strongly miffed that The Guardian should publish a letter from Dr Neil Young defending UK landords from an address in Pennsylvania, USA. He chose the wrong target. I pay rent, income and council tax. I own no second home. He ties me into the Church of England's management of its property when it is totally outside my control. I have frequently protested that the Church's exploitation of the land it owns equals that of the most ardent secular landlord putting profit before concern for the poorest citizens, most recently in our submission to the Archbishop of Canterbury's Commission on Housing, Church and Community.   
Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty  

In conclusion
Power has been abused. Government policy since the “big bang” in the 1980s has provided huge unearned and untaxed increases in the value of land for the private benefit of land owners, landlords, national and international developers.  Land has been moved further and further away from serving the common good to the detriment of the health and wellbeing of low income tenants. The Church of England as a landowner is among the powerful beneficiaries of that injustice. The Archbishop has stated that “It’s a time for a radical look at what enables people to live in communities, to build relationships.”  In particular it is time for the fair sharing of land in the UK; time for that sharing to be seen as essential for the establishment of secure communities for all.   

From the Reverend Paul Nicolson

The good health and wellbeing of all UK citizens in or out of work must now become a national priority.