Want to Get the Economy Moving, Create Jobs and Make Housing More Affordable? Here’s How We Get It Done.

It’s easy to feel powerless these days.  Jobs are scarce and insecure, wages are flat, fuel prices are soaring, rents are going up and all the while the rich keep getting richer.  At my age, it’s tempting to leave it to someone else to fix.  But as a parent and a patriot, I can’t and I won’t. An entire generation of Brits is being left behind.  1 in 5 young people are unemployed. Those who can find work often end up in part-time, poorly paid, dead end jobs. Then there’s the significant matter of putting a roof over their heads.  There’s a chronic lack of social housing and most young people don’t have a hope in hell of getting a foot on the property ladder, especially when the majority of jobs are being created in and around London where the average mortgage deposit for a first time buyer is projected to hit £100,000 by 2020.

That’s no typo.  It really is one hundred thousand pounds.  Talk about a hefty punch in the face.

For centuries, the British tax system has been rigged to benefit wealthy land owners.   It’s no surprise then that 70% of the land in the country is owned by 1% of the population.  The  majority (i.e. the working classes and the squeezed middle classes) put up with the arrangement so long as children had a good shot at a better life than their parents. But all that’s changed now.  We have reached a dangerous tipping point in our economy. Our children face a future of declining living standards.  The lucky ones will claw their way into social housing while the rest will be condemned to either live rough or spend their lives beholden to rich landlords who bleed them dry.

We don’t have to stand by while our children are railroaded into serfdom.   We are not powerless. We can make affordable housing a reality, and boost the economy in the process.  By demanding a LAND VALUE TAX.

LAND VALUE TAX or LVT is an annual tax on the value of a plot of land.  Unlike VAT, income tax, council tax and business rates which hit people of modest means the hardest, an LVT shifts the tax burden to the wealthiest land owning members of society.  As things stand now, land owners do not pay taxes on land they haven’t developed, which means they have everything to gain by sitting on real estate instead of putting it into productive use by building houses or businesses on top of it.  It’s a simple study in supply and demand. The fewer houses/buildings there are the more valuable the existing stock becomes. This is precisely why we have housing bubbles.   A LAND VALUE TAX would change everything by unlocking the value of the nation’s vast tracks of under-utilized real estate.  Hoarding would become very unprofitable, forcing land owners to either sell to developers or build on it themselves.  As the housing stock increases, prices would drop, recapturing the dream of home ownership for the nation’s youth.  And all that building would kick start the economy by creating much needed jobs, not to mention providing an incentive to improve our crumbling infrastructure which would make us more competitive.

Affordable housing.  More jobs.  Economic growth.  Competitiveness. That’s what a LAND VALUE TAX can do for us.  And unlike other forms of taxation, this one is very tough for the rich to dodge.  You can’t hide a piece of land offshore. Continue reading