Mansion Tax not Bedroom Tax?
Published by Phil Morgan on Friday, February 17th, 2012 at 12:19 pm
One of the more compelling articles recently has been by Suzanne Moore when she argued that “Instead of being disgusted by poverty, we are disgusted by poor people themselves. Empathy has crashed. No more cruel to be kind. We must simply be cruel.”
There are elements of this lack of empathy in the Government’s approach to the so-called bedroom tax. Riding a wave of populism the Government (and at times the Labour Opposition) have been all too ready to portray tenants as ‘bed blockers’, denying other potential tenants a bed of their own.
I’ve written previously about my partial sympathy with the aim of the Government in sweating social housing harder. We’re not about to build two million new homes in the next few years and better use of what we have makes sense.
And there are some excellent landlords who have been doing precisely this on a voluntary basis and gaining some startling results when tenants are given a real choice about moving from under occupied homes.
The downfall of the Government’s proposals is in denying such choice and in forcing benefits cuts even where tenants have no real choice to move. This is simply an example of being simply cruel.
But if we’re looking at housing as a whole where better to look than those who have lots of spare bedrooms? Vince Cable’s interesting ideas around a Mansion Tax, targeted at those with properties worth more than £2m is gaining support even from Conservatives.
Such properties would be a tax on wealth not income and might be rather attractive given these properties have maintained a very generous council tax banding for some time. This would raise up to £1.7bn and is substantially more than the cost of the rather modest amendments currently being discussed by the Lords.
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