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LVT for the doorstep canvasser


The LibDems continue to thrash around with their idea for a “Mansions Tax”. The original proposal was for it to start at a threshold of £1 million but that raised an uproar as it would have caught quite a lot of owners of ordinary houses in and around London, so the latest idea is for a threshold of £2 million, which will simply not raise enough money to be worth the trouble. The best of it is that at least it is a sign that the LibDems are moving away from their pet Local Income Tax proposal. But why don’t they get a proper grip on the issue?



Here is an outline of what we would suggest the LibDems put in their manifesto instead, expressed in the kind of way that a doorstep canvasser could put across easily and convincingly.



“We will reform the Council Tax and the UBR to make them fairer and bring the valuations up to date. Both will be assessed on site values only, to reduce bureaucracy and for the other advantages this method of valuation will bring.



“The Council Tax will no longer penalise households who have improved their houses with garages, conservatories and loft extensions. We will relieve the present burden on people with houses on sites of little value by making amount payable proportional to the value of the site the houses are standing on. To discourage people from leaving houses and housing sites empty, we will levy the charge on all land occupied by housing or with planning consent for housing.



“The UBR reform will no longer penalise owners who have good quality developments on their land. Again, to discourage owners from leaving property vacant or demolishing it so as to avoid paying their rate, we will levy the charge on all sites on the basis of the planning consents that apply to that land. To ensure fairness, we will also levy the UBR on agricultural land.



“The reformed rates will include an equalisation charge so that councils in poor areas do not have to levy very high rates in order to pay for the services they provide.



“To protect pensioners where land values have risen since they moved into their homes, possibly many years ago, we will introduce a credit scheme to ensure they are not forced to move out.



“How will the valuation be done? Using up-to-date local figures, the rent each property could be rented for is established. The amount of the rent which relates to the value of the building and the costs of looking after it are then deducted. What is left over represents, in principle, the value of the site. For example, a three bedroom house close to a tube station in a popular London suburb – can be rented out for many times the amount that could be obtained for an almost identical house in the suburbs of a provincial city that has gone through hard times. Since the value of the bricks and mortar must be much the same in both cases, the different site values can only come about because of the relative advantages of the two locations.The reformed rate will be charged only on that site value.”


Why is that so difficult?