HOUSING CRISIS 11am Monday 9th January, Old Palace Yard, Westminster event is on despite tube strike .

2 January 2017

Dear all - on the Monday 9th January at 11am in the Old Palace Yard,Westminster​ we will be campaigning for;

1.An immediate rent freeze for a year in all sectors private, registered social landlords and councils, while rent regulations are brought in, 
 
2. All land owners to pay an annual ground rent to the government to force the use of unused land and empty property. Builders’ land banks own 600,000 plots of unused land. They cannot put land in an overseas tax​-​free Bank - ​ with the abolition of council tax, business rates, stamp duty and the gradual reduction of VAT and income tax.

​Please come and bring a bell if you have one to raise the alarm for the housing crisis. ​

​Happy New Year, 
Paul​

HOUSING CRISIS - letter to Ministers and Shadow Ministers & ringing the alarm bell - 11am Monday 9th January, Old Palace Yard, Westminster.

MPs and Peers return to work after the Christmas and New Year break on Monday 9th January, when  Ministers and Shadow Ministers will find a hard copy of the letter  below in their offices. Fred Harrison and I will be seeking meetings with them. 

The flyer we will use for the event at 11am on Monday the 9th January in Old Palace Yard can be found here. I hope many of you will be able to come and will bring a bell if you have one. We will film the event and make it available. 

We sounded the alarm when MPs and Peers left the housing crisis to fester - we are sounding it again when they return to work to remind them to deal with it. The letter provides some immediate and long term solutions. . 

If you cannot come, because TAP's 19,036 Facebook likes are UK wide, I hope you will consider ringing an alarm bell about the housing crisis outside your own MPs constituency surgeries and hand or mail them the letter below and the flyer.

The alarm we raised on the 20th December when MPs and Peers left the housing crisis behind and went home for Christmas  was covered by London Live TV.which was posted on TAP Facebook where we got 2.2K likes and 526 shares. My efforts on Vimeo received 14K views about 20% of which saw all 6 minutes. 

With all good wishes for what is shaping up to be a very difficult new year. 

Paul 

 

To Ministers and Shadow Ministers. 

Summary of the TAP/APPG on Poverty seminar on affordable housing 16/11/16

“Land, which is a necessity of human existence, which is the original source of all wealth, which is strictly limited in extent, which is fixed in geographical position -- land, I say, differs from all other forms of property, and the immemorial customs of nearly every modern state have placed the tenure, transfer, and obligations of land in a wholly different category from other classes of property."”
Winston Churchill “The People’s Land” 1909.

 

Hunger, Debt and Ill Health. Some immediate actions and long term solutions

Taxpayers Against Poverty co-hosted an Affordable Housing seminar on the 16th November with the All Party Parliamentang. The Index for the blogs is here. They are by;ry Group on Poverty, in the Houses of Parliament at which a panel of speakers raised their demands to see tangible policy solutions to the ever-deepening housing crisis. The Seminar supported TAPs social media campaign of ten blogs  on affordable housing

Stephen Hill Director C2O futureplanners, MA. MRICS.,

Fred Harrison, Executive Director of the Land Research Trust 

Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography of the School of Geography and the Environment of the University of Oxford. 

Alison Gelder Director, Housing Justice. 

At the event, chaired by Kate Green MP, the authoritative speakers each offered their own expert analysis and raised the following observations and solutions.

Rev. Paul Nicolson, Founder of Tax Payers Against Poverty:
First recommendation for immediate action;

  • A Bill is drafted immediately, and passed rapidly through both Houses, which bans all rent rises from for one year from the 17th November 2016 with the option for Parliament to renew the ban or not at the end of the year.

Paul argues that crises normally motivate immediate action but the housing crisis is allowed to worsen indefinitely. The immediate future for landless tenants who are benefit claimants is one of increased hunger, debt & ill health.

Benefit claimants are expected to pay increasing rents from ifrom the income needed for food, fuel and other necessities which have been diminishing in value since 2011. 

They are being forced ever deeper into penury in work and unemployment. They have their rents increased twice: first by private landlords, housing associations and local authorities, who raise their rents with the market, and secondly by central government cutting their housing benefit with the bedroom tax, the LHA and the benefit cap. When the government cuts housing benefit it increases the tenants' rents.

Since April 2013 the frozen single unemployed adult benefit of £73.10 a week is required to pay rent by central government and council tax by local government. Not only do shredded benefits lead to deprivation and financial poverty, but also to poverty of health – costing the NHS, schools and wider economy billions.

This crisis has a backdrop of historical gluttony when it comes to housing. Since the 1980s when lending was deregulated, rent controls abolished, and the free flow of money in and out of the UK permitted, private landlords, housing associations, national and international speculators have enjoyed profit from both rising rents and the exponential increase in the value of their property. TAP therefore demands:


Duncan Pickard Phd. Land owner and Farmer. Author.

Second recommendation for immediate action;

  • Duncan argued that an annual ground rent should be paid to government by the owners of all unused and developable land and empty property immediately to capture for the public benefit a proportion of the increase in the value of land which would otherwise enter the pockets of national and international speculators, and which they have done nothing to earn.

Where many focus on the urban areas when it comes to housing, Duncan offers his own personal insight and fresh analysis on the decimation of rural communities through both the farming industry and the land it entails. Duncan locates the problem in the perverse tax system which favours investment in residential property and penalises employment and trade via income taxes and VAT. The result for rural communities is the financial unviability of smaller farms, and rural communities that transform into mostly holiday homes of the wealthy who live and work in cities. He therefore also proposes:

  • Charging more Council Tax for houses which are second, third and above than for primary houses. Houses which are vacant for more than a month should pay Council Tax, the amount charged increases the longer the house is vacant.
  • Plans should be prepared to replace taxes on employment and trade with Annual Ground Rent to reduce the present unfair taxation of those who live and work in peripheral areas of the UK.

 

Stephen Hill, Director, C2O Futureplanners:

Stephen concedes that many major structural things need to be done to solve the housing crisis, but that they seem just too difficult to even start. He identifies three immediate problems that could be solved quickly and without legislation, as a necessary first step.

Firstly, he believes that too many Chartered Surveyors and Planners are failing to act in the public interest to secure affordable housing through the planning system.

Secondly, he sees the ‘political elites’ taking a skewed approach of political self-interest which
also fails to understand how housing markets need to work, and thirdly he believes ‘metropolitan elites’ fail to comprehend the highly localised character of the housing crisis; instead taking a scattergun, one-size-fits-all, London-centric approach.

Stephen therefore puts forward the following solutions:

  • Make chartered surveyors and planners accountable to the public through a system of registered appraisers and public interest declarations, with a public interest sounding board, and thought leadership role for their professional institutions to challenge policy.
  • Politicians also need to be made more accountable to the public, through a UK Housing Evidence Centre, already being set up by the ESRC, RICS and others, that is put on a statutory footing, independent of government, with responsibility for fact checking, creating an evidence base of all UK housing and labour markets, and offering disinterested Policy Impact Assessments on national and local housing policies.  
  • Share responsibility between the state and citizens everywhere, so that more land for genuinely and permanently affordable housing is owned and used only to benefit the local community, through locally accountable democratic controlled community land trusts, as already defined in statute.

Fred Harrison, Director, The Land Research Trust:

Fred strongly argues that a fundamental issue is the way poverty remains largely non-politicised. This should not be the case: the tax system privileges land values against earned income, resulting in what he describes as ‘Death by Acts of Parliament’ (Prof. Michael Marmot estimates the premature death rate at 200,000 British citizens every year). There is therefore an inherent need to change the fiscal system to rid us of deadweight taxes which cost the economy around £500 billion through supressing the economy. Fred argues we need:

  • A national conversation that informs people of the flawed fiscal system
  • A Citizens Rent Dividend that is a benefit by right
  • Parliament to publish 2 key stats: an annual assessment of the nation’s taxable net income (economic rent), and the annual deadweight losses attributable to Treasury’s preferred taxes

Liz Davies, Barrister, Vice-President, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers:

The Housing and Planning Act of 2016 is identified by Liz as a law which will significantly exacerbate the housing crisis, making an already bad situation even worse. The government currently seems stalled on when, and how, it will come into effect but it should be repealed. The Act, Liz argues, fundamentally changes the duties of local housing authorities, requiring councils to sell off empty social housing on the open market instead of giving shelter to those in need.

The Pay to Stay element of the Act declares that those tenants with higher incomes will have to pay much higher rents, rendering it cheaper for many to pay for a mortgage than stay in council accommodation.* Empty higher value council properties will be sold to fund the discount for Right to Buy for Housing Association tenants.

Finally the change in tenure stipulation, from council housing being a home for life, or as long as the tenant wants to remain and abides by the terms of the tenancy, to Local Authorities being required to provide fixed term tenancies (generally speaking the limit is set at 10 years with some exceptions),will lead to unfair instability on those who live in council housing.

*UPDATE: on 21 November 2016 the government announced that it would not implement Pay to Stay: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-11-21/HCWS274/

The Act demonstrates the government’s tunnel vision when it comes to solving the housing crisis, as it is clear that the government only recognises the private sector as the mechanism for solving the crisis. Liz therefore believes that;

  • The Housing and Planning Act should not be brought into force, so the assault on social housing is stopped.
  • In the long term it should be repealed.

Dawn Foster, writer and journalist:

Dawn reflects on the change in attitude towards housing over her lifetime: in her youth there was no differentiation between home owners, or those in social housing. As she grew older she observed a change in attitude to a point today, where we see housing as assets – and where social housing is stigmatised. She therefore calls for:

  • A nationwide programme of house building that suits local needs must get underway
  • Change the attitude towards housing so that we are able to build a diverse housing eco system, which serves the needs of all people equally. The critical means of doing this is to make both renting and social housing more acceptable and normalised

ENDS


Background
Taxpayers Against Poverty was set up by the Reverend Paul Nicolson, a retired vicar and long-time anti-poverty campaigner, to act as a focus for taxpayers who resent being used by politicians as the excuse for cutting social security to a level which creates debt, hunger, homelessness and ill health. 

It is campaigning to eliminate the poverty and housing crises in the UK which are damaging the mental and physical health of the poorest citizens and their children. It campaigns for minimum income standards and affordable housing which provide the poorest people with enough to income for a healthy life after rent, national and local taxation have been paid.
If you would like to speak to Paul Nicolson about the campaign or attend the seminar, please get in touch with Priya Rane on the Taxpayers Against Poverty press line: 020 3544 4950 or via email priya.rane@champollion

 

 

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