Land for the Many - Labour's controversial policy paper

Land for the Many - Labour's controversial policy paper

Published on 5th June 2019

Land for the Many - Labour's controversial policy paper

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party have unveiled a raft of new policy ideas designed to solve the housing crisis and make the economy fairer for the least well off – plans which include abolishing Council Tax entirely and replacing it with a “progressive property tax” to be paid only by asset-rich homeowners. This would mean that private renters and low earners who are unable to get on the housing ladder would be completely freed from the burden of Council Tax.

The policy idea is contained in a new report which calls on Labour to make a string of "radical but practical changes in the way land in the UK is used and governed" if it wins the next election.

The policy paper, entitled ‘Land For The Many‘, has been co-authored by a host of progressive luminaries including Guardian journalist George Monbiot, and outlines 9 multifaceted policy recommendations which could be implemented by a future Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government.

By introducing a new “progressive property tax” set nationally instead of by local councils, this means the tax will be paid for by landlords instead of tenants. It also means empty homes, second homes and those owned by people not resident in the UK for tax purposes would have to pay the new tax at a “significantly” higher rate.

The idea behind the proposed shake-up of the property tax system is to “discourage the use of homes as financial assets, reduce the tax paid by the majority of households, and encourage more efficient use of the housing stock”.

The report states: “We recommend that a Labour government would replace the regressive and unpopular council tax with a progressive property tax based on contemporary property values. Unlike council tax, this tax would be payable by owners, not tenants. This would result in significant administrative savings, lower levels of arrears and less court action. Unlike council tax, the progressive property tax rate would be based on regularly updated property values, and the rates would be set nationally, rather than locally determined.”

However, some ministers have branded the proposal “extraordinary and deeply damaging” and warned that Labour’s move amounted to a “tax bombshell”. Yet the report was welcomed by shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett, who vowed to study its recommendations "in detail".

The policy idea, contained in the report, suggests that if Labour wins the next general election, the party should make public all information about land ownership and control, urge the Bank of England to do more to cool the property market, and give new ‘Public Development Corporations’ the power to purchase, develop and sell land “in the public interest”.

Housing secretary James Brokenshire stated that the plans were “extraordinary and deeply damaging in equal measure”.

He said: “Labour will stop at nothing to hammer families with more tax and make home ownership a pipedream for future generations. Plans to seize land into public ownership also show Labour's true colours of more and more state control.”

The policy paper recommends that the new tax should be “based on contemporary property values“. and would only be “payable by owners, not tenants“.



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