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Wednesday 3 December 2014

Mansion Tax – Get The Nanoviolin

The faux outrage of those living in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) over Labour proposals for a so-called “Mansion Tax” has been ramped up another notch, with the campaign even attracting the attention of the Evening Standard, aka London Daily Bozza, which has featured it in Londoner’s Diary, albeit in second spot behind the obligatory sleb rubbish.
As Zelo Street noted recently, RBKC leader Nick Paget-Brown has summoned up what he calls a “people’s movement”, claiming that the retired and elderly would be forced from their homes by the personal and truly dastardly intervention of “Auguste” Balls, and any other Labour figures who he can paint as baddies. The idea of the comfortably-off rising up against funding the NHS is an interesting one.

And even the Standard adopts a slightly cynical tone when addressing the concerns of Paget-Brown and his popular uprising: “the well-heeled folk of Kensington and Chelsea ... have started calling it the ‘two-bedroom tax’”. They already got no traction at all when claiming that the Mansion Tax would see people chucked out of their homes (it wouldn’t), so what hope will this latest soundbite have?

In any case, they take the biscuit soon after: “The meeting was organised by leader of Kensington and Chelsea council  Nicholas Paget-Brown and retired  former Foreign Office senior medical adviser Dr Harald Lipman from Hampstead, who has said: ‘This is a non-partisan, apolitical campaign, it’s humanitarian’”. Yes, folks, the plight of those in the RBKC is Gaza-like in its severity.

Paget-Brown’s use of hyperbole does not serve him too well, either: “Paget-Brown has already written a letter to shadow chancellor Ed Balls on behalf of residents of the royal borough, explaining they are not ‘remotely like the “billionaire overseas buyer in a £140 million penthouse” that you mentioned in your speech’, and calling on him to ‘rethink this vindictive proposal’”.

One resident told that “Tempers are running jolly high around here ... Yes, lots of us do live in properties that might be considered fantastically valuable by the standards of the rest of the country but around here are considered extremely small-fry”. This from someone who lives in a two bedroom flat. So I searched for two bedroom flats for sale in the Notting Hill area.

And it came to pass that most of these were priced well below the £2 million threshold, although there were some that went well above that mark. Besides, they may be asked for another £3,000 a year in Mansion Tax, which can be deferred by the less well off for as long as they wish. But good of Nick Paget-Brown to both show he thinks Labour will win next year, and make Mansion Tax more popular.

Meanwhile, the Nanoviolin is just tuning up. Pity the new poor of RBKC.


Darren said...

Perhaps Mr. Paget-Brown would prefer a genuinely progressive property tax instead. It's appalling that the council tax banding has never been reassessed.

rob said...

Continuing on from Darren's comment above has anyone assessed what proportion of their income those in the highest bands of council tax have to fork out compared to those in the lowest bands.

If the mansion tax does go ahead it should go hand in hand with increases (extra bands) at the top end of council tax; the costs of revaluations required could be shared.

Failing that we could always try the window tax again - cue the sound of broken glass again - a blondie moment perhaps?

SteveB said...

your problem with trying any form of national comparative that involves council tax bands is that the actual value of the properties can vary widely across the country. The classic (mis)use of this is using Band D tax rates as a way of comparing different councils. In many areas of London you'd be hard pressed to find something that cheap, up here in Crewe you'd be hard pressed to find anything that expensive! The actual revenue councils needs to raise won't vary that massively, it' just how it will spread across the bands. The fair way to compare tax rates is look at what different councils charge for similar properties, irrespective of what their local values are. To start things off, a 2 bed terraced with a small garden in Crewe is Band A and is charged about £976 (inc fire and police etc.) How much would a similar house in an area like SW18 be charged?

The idea of having national council tax Bands based on local values just doesn't work, even before the old problem of revaluing happens (which is actually a waste of time and money because at the end it will make very little difference to charges).

For a scheme to have any use nationally it has to be based on something that is comparable, the window tax is a bit extreme (and easy to beat!) but square footage would be a better place to start.