One of the greatest inequalities in UK is between people who own land and people who do not own land. It is an inequality that damages well-being of the low to middle income renters & mortgagees.
The detrimental impact on mental and physical health of the present tax regime in the UK is so serious that we have sent all MPs and Peers currently considering land taxes a copy of our oral evidence to the APPG on Land Value Capture, shown below, and made the following recommendations. The MPs and Peers are listed at the end of this post. Please lobby them!
Land value tax must at least replace council tax and business rates as a first step.
When bedded in it should also replace stamp duty and the lower levels of income tax
Oral evidence given by the Rev Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty to the APPG of Land Value Capture from 2-4 on 25th June 2018.
Make the good health and well-being of all UK citizens the goal of all land use in the UK - Land in the UK has become a morals-free zone – a moral desert
The central message the world best seller "The Spirit Level", by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett in 2009 is as follows.
What greater equality brings
“In societies where income differences between rich and poor are smaller, the statistics show not only that community life is stronger and people are much more likely to trust each other, but also that there is less violence – including substantially lower homicide rates, that health is better and life expectancy is several years longer, that prison populations are smaller, birth rates among teenagers are lower, levels of educational attainment among school children tend to be higher, and lastly, there is more social mobility. In all cases, where income differences are narrower, outcomes are better (Wilkinson 2005).”
In Tottenham we are living through the violent consequences of inequality spelled out in that research. I live on the border of a ward that is among 5% of the most deprived in the UK
The goal of Fred Harrison’s work and that of Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett is to improve the well-being of the whole UK population.
The empirical researches of the Land Research Trust and the Equality Trust overlap with the 3000 year old wisdom of the great faiths. The Jewish word “shalom” and the Muslim word “salaam” translate into the Christian word “peace”. In all the major faiths peace is not only the absence of conflict but also the presence of well-being for all.
May I suggest that the goal of using land to improve the well-being of the whole UK population ought to be the goal of this All Party Parliamentary Group.
One of the greatest inequalities in the UK is between people who own land and people who do not own land. It is an inequality that damages the well-being of the low to middle income renters and mortgagees of homes.
There is a gross unfairness when land owners, landlords and land speculators are profiting from vast unearned, untaxed increases in the value of land while the seven million tenants get none of that while their incomes carry a disproportionate share of taxation and ever higher rents , which are putting their health in jeopardy.
As I am sure members of the APPPG know housing and council tax benefits have been cut; therefore the very inadequate and frozen JSA or Universal Credit incomes intended for food, fuel, clothes, transport and other necessities are also paying rising rent and rising council tax since April 2013. The result is a greater the incidence of debt, hunger and mental and physical ill health.
Last Tuesday I was at the Launch of the book “Inner Level” in which Wilkinson & Pickett show how more equal societies reduce stress, restore sanity and improve everyone’s well-being.
A land-value tax, annual ground rent or land-usage charge – whatever you like to call it – is a way of ensuring the unearned increase in value of land is shared for the common good and the well-being of all.
It should replace taxes such as council tax, business rates and stamp duty, and maybe some income tax.
We like annual ground rent (AGR) paid to national or local government because land cannot be sent overseas to a tax haven. It might even recover some of the trillions shipped out to the detriment of pay as you earn and council tax payers who have no such escape.
We agree with the Economic Affairs Committee in the House of Lords who said in July 2016 that
“The Government should assess why there is a large gap between the number of planning permissions granted and the number of homes actually built. In particular it should identify who is holding permissioned land that is not developed.” AGR would encourage the use of land banks for the creation of jobs and homes.
But the power is with the landlords, the wealthy and the landed aristocracy, national and international speculators to grab more and more UK land and get ever richer.
The vast increase in the value of London land has led to national and international developers eyeing the very valuable land under the homes of council tenants with a view to evicting them and using the sale of the land to finance more expensive and profitable homes on former council estates.
Barry Quirk, who took over as CEO in Kensington and Chelsea one week after the fire in June 2017, made a comment in a private meeting with Grenfell United, the survivors’ group. One of its leading members, Edward Daffarn, told the House of Commons housing select committee;
“Think about that,” Daffarn told the MPs. “They were property developers masquerading as a local authority. They failed to keep us safe because they had higher priorities – getting their hands on the land, this massive goldmine they had.” The council said it accepted Daffarn’s remarks and agreed. We have the same problem in Haringey on the Broadwater Farm estate.
Kensington & Chelsea and Haringey councils know all there is to know about the price of land and little or nothing about the value of community
The same fate is being imposed on small businesses if they get in the way of the bulldozers. In Tottenham they are threatened with compulsory purchase orders at the request of Lend Lease and Tottenham Hotspur. Small businesses underneath the arches of National Rail are also threatened by the private sectors' lust for land and the public authorities' willingness to put making a quick buck by selling public land before supporting the endeavours of small businesses, their owners and employees. Such small businesses often provide local employment in deprived areas.
There is no need to sell public land to build homes or create jobs. TAP is advised by Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK. He writes;
"The government is not a like a household budget. Unlike a household it can create its own funds in the form of money and everyone readily accepts them. It can never go bust. To pretend that it is financially constrained, except by full employment, is simply wrong. It is not. It can and should create all the funds needed to make sure there is full employment at living in the economy and only stop creating new funds at that moment because of the risk of inflation.
Using this analysis we are a long way from the limits of desirable government spending at present, not least because millions of people in this country are expected to survive on far less than a living wage.”
Insecurity of tenure of the urban poor is a violation of human rights. "The lack of security of tenure - in law and practice - makes protection against forced eviction very difficult". A secure tenancy is vital to the health and well-being of those who do not or do not wish to own their homes. Insecurity also disrupts the economic viability of small businesses.
Land in the UK has become a morals-free zone – a moral desert. To the major faiths, land is a gift of a generous and loving God, and intended to provide safe shelter, food, fuel, clothes for everyone; to humanists, it is a gift of nature for the same purposes. To national and local government, it is just cash.
We hope you will make the well-being of all UK residents the goal of land use in the UK.
Membership - Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee
Mr Clive Betts (Chair) Labour
Mike Amesbury Labour
Bob Blackman Conservative
Helen Hayes Labour
Kevin Hollinrake Conservative
Andrew Lewer Conservative
Jo Platt Labour (Co-op)
Mr Mark Prisk Conservative
Mary Robinson Conservative
Liz Twist Labour
Matt Western Labour
Membership. All Party Parliamentary Group on Land Value Capture.
|Sir Vince Cable MP||Liberal Democrat||chair|
|Richard Bacon MP||Conservative||vice chair|
|Ruth Cadbury MP||Labour||vice chair|
|Sir Edward Davey MP||Liberal Democrat||vice chair|
|Kevin Hollinrake MP||Conservative||vice chair|
|Caroline Lucas MP||Green Party||vice chair|
|Nick Boles MP||Conservative|
|David Drew MP||Labour|
|Kelvin Hopkins MP|
|Stephen Lloyd MP||Liberal Democrat|
|Tony Lloyd MP||Labour|
|Seema Malhotra MP||Labour|
|Chris Williamson MP||Labour|
|Matt Western MP||Labour|
|Baroness Jennie Jones||Green Party|
|Baroness Alison Suttie||Liberal Democrat|
|Lord (Richard) Best||Crossbench|
|Lord (Chris) Fox||Liberal Democrat|
|Lord (Matt) Taylor of Gross Moor||Liberal Democrat|
|Lord (William) Wallace of Saltaire||Liberal Democrat|
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