Cllr Nick Paget-Brown is the leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council.
I have in the past described Labour’s proposed Mansion Tax as a “nasty tax”.
The recent announcement by Ed Balls that the proceeds are destined for the NHS doesn’t make the proposals any less nasty. After all, mugging an old lady is no less a crime just because you spend her pension wisely.
What underpins the mansion tax is the notion that most people who live in £2m plus homes are members of the super rich – the bankers, the oligarchs and such. In fact in his conference speech, the single example Balls chose to illustrate the justice of his mansion tax was a “Billionaire Overseas buyer.”
But the great majority of people who own these homes are nothing like that. They are not billionaires, they are not from overseas, and they are not buyers. In Kensington and Chelsea many of them bought their houses years and years ago when they cost four or five hundred thousand rather than four or five million and they did so from income that had already been taxed Some of them, as confirmed to me during the recent council election campaign, actually inherited their homes from their parents. Many of them are now retired. They will simply not be able to afford the mansion tax.
Labour knows this and seeks to neutralise public sympathy with an assurance that those who are “cash poor, brick rich” will be protected. What form will that protection take? The most likely candidate seems to be a charge on the property, to be recovered when the property is sold, or when the owner dies.
So not content with taking 40 per cent in death duties, Eds Miliband and Balls fancy an additional death grab of tens of thousands of pounds in unpaid mansion tax.
As for those who don’t want to see yet more of their children’s inheritance seized by the Government, well they can move can’t they, no doubt making way for actual “billionaire overseas buyers”.