Ed Miliband’s public support for a ‘mansion tax’ is yet another broadside in the class war that he and his colleagues are so fond of but which, once again, demonstrates how – by practising the politics of envy – he is either wildly out of touch or desperate for a sympathetic showing and a cheap headline in the left wing media.
Mr Miliband’s Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls has asserted that a new tax on homes worth more than £2 million would yield £2 billion per year. That works out at almost £30,000 from each of the 70,000 properties estimated to fall within that price bracket. It is thought that 91 per cent of these properties are in Greater London. Quite what Mr Miliband has against the country’s capital I do not know. After all, he is not proposing that this money be spent on building new homes for Londoners – as I have previously argued here that a localisation of Stamp Duty receipts should be put towards – or helping the least well off stay in their homes. Instead this money would flow towards that most chilling of places; an Ed Balls controlled HM Treasury.
Among the 70,000 “mansions” a fair number of them, especially those found in central London, will undoubtedly be modest-sized properties with some even being social homes. There is, of course, a good argument for selling off such properties but these are also assets for local authorities or housing association and as such they may believe that holding on to them for a bit longer may be more beneficial to the taxpayer.
Local authorities also have a duty to house those in need and in an area like Westminster accommodation for a family of five, six, seven or more does not come cheap. In any case, the proposals being put forward by the Labour frontbench compromise the future of these homes. The Leader of the Opposition is effectively evicting large families in social homes, forcing them into smaller homes or accommodation far away from their employment, their child’s school and their family and friends. Who would pay Mr Miliband’s +£10,000 tax in this instance? The tenant, or the local authority?
As is often the case with this kind of announcement, much thought has been given to the headline-writers but very little has been afforded to the people who will actually be affected. The left can throw around phrases like ‘super-rich’ but in reality some of those being targeted are hard-working aspirational people and those in real need who – through an accident of birth – happen to have a longstanding attachment to the heart of the capital. Mr Miliband’s message to all of these groups is simple, ‘London is not for you’.