Land Value Taxation Campaign

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The LVTC blog, by Henry Law

The comments in the LVTC Blog are a personal view of our Hon. Secretary Henry Law and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the Campaign.

This is a place for personal observations and comments on politics, economics, current affairs, on-going discussions on the potential for LVT to remedy some of the current ills, and the impact on Society of any of the above. 

Please read and enjoy, and feel free to respond to Henry if you have any thing you would like to add.


Open letter to Caroline Lucas, my Green MP

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Dear Caroline Lucas,

I was disturbed to see that Richard Murphy mentioned your name in connection with his economic proposals for growth, which he outlined in an article in the Guardian yesterday.
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Winners and losers from high speed rail

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An article in the Daily Telegraph explains that High Speed Rail (HS2) will create winners as well as losers among homeowners and homebuyers because, even though only 1.2 miles of the line will be above ground in the Chilterns, it will affect local house prices for good or ill. David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services, owners of estate agents Your Move and Reeds Rains said: “For many  property owners in the Chilterns, one of the key selling factors – their surrounding natural beauty and peaceful countryside – will be removed forever. Many properties will be compulsorily purchased, but for those at the fringes of this zone, significant reductions in value of between 25pc and 30pc are likely.

“On the other hand, properties at the termini of the line will see their potential value soar.
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Fur coat and no knickers

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The government has now given the go-ahead to HS2 - £16 billion the high speed railway between London and Birmingham that will shave 20 minutes off the journey in 2026. For a further £16 billion, it is intended that it will reach Manchester in the 2030s. This is a shocking demonstration of the inability of Britain's decision makers to join up their thinking.

Having decided to invest this amount on public transport, it can not possibly be the best use of resources to devote it to this one project.

"Fur coat and no knickers" is the phrase that comes to mind. It is unlikely that the opposition will succeed in overturning the project at this stage. When there are so many more worthwhile rail improvements urgently needed all over the country, I find it sad that prestige trumps utility yet again.

It would help if there was an effective means of measuring the external value of infrastructure. The value of "time saved" is a poor yardstick. We would argue that a better measure would be the aggregate increase in land value that arises from the project.
 

Public services have to be paid for somehow

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I was having a conversation recently with a neighbour who runs a small business and employs a couple of staff. I pointed out that she, as employer, actually pays the taxes, because the employees would be happy to work for whatever their take-home pay happens to be. I explained that for every  £1 a worker receives in take-home pay, the employer has to pay over 80p to the government. And that has to be passed on in prices. Thus, bus fares have to include an amount to cover the tax paid, nominally, by the driver. This is a subject that has been discussed several times before on this website.

She would not accept the point but neither could she answer it, so she fell back on the argument that public services have to be paid for. So it does not matter how the money is raised. Any means will do. This opens up interesting possibilities.

How about this idea? People could be rounded up at random and asked to pay money to the government, anything from, say, £25 to £1 million. The system would function as a kind of national lottery in reverse, with everyone participating. It would be perfectly fair, wouldn't it? After all, everyone would have the same chances and everyone benefits equally from public services.
 

Who can refute our arguments?

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No one ever tries to refute our arguments about a land tax. Not seriously. Some people just agree, either because they do, or they don't want an argument. A few get bored when the subject is mentioned. Some don't want to know or say they can't get their heads round it. Some don't like the idea as they think it would hurt them.

The arguments are impossible to refute except by invoking things like millionaires living in shop doorways to avoid the tax, Google running its operation from a piece of rock in mid-Atlantic, the super-rich ruining the country as they flee, taking their money with them, developers putting up tower blocks in the middle of the countryside, all the food growing areas being concreted over, sky-high food prices. Not forgetting, of course the 95-year-old widow, living in the same 2-up-2-down terrace house that her long dead husband bought with his demob gratuity in 1946, worth well over a million, in an area which is now one of the most fashionable in town, even though it still has the same outside toilet as it had when the house was built in 1890.

After a while, I suppose, imagination runs out. There are more cogent arguments against land value on this site than are ever put up by the opposition.

 

Help George tackle Britain’s empty homes crisis

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I received an email from George Clarke who is running a campaign to tackle Britain's empty homes crisis. Something that has been going on for decades cannot be called a "crisis", but he says that there are 350,000 empty homes, of which 85% are privately owned. He calls for
  1. A law change to give communities and individuals the power to turn abandoned properties in their local area into homes for people who need them.
  2. Access to low-cost loan funds for people who need financial help to get empty properties back into use.
"Many empty home owners would be happy to find occupants for their houses if only they had some help. It is important to find ways to help them get their houses back into use", he explains.

Why don't they just sell them?
 

How to pay for infrastructure

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Channel Tunnel terminal, Cheriton

The government has just announced its infrastructure programme as a means of getting the economy going. We have advocated this ever since the economy started to go bad a few years ago. But... a scheme like the London Underground's Northern Line extension to Battersea ought to give rise to a land value uplift of several times what it will cost to build. This amounts to a gift to the landowners that will happen to benefit from the scheme. They have won in a lottery.

The way to pay for infrastructure is
Read more...
 


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