Author Archives: Joe Bourke

Homelessness and Universal Credit

Panorama this week revealed large numbers of social housing tenants on Universal Credit owe more than double in rent arrears on average than benefit claimants on the legacy Housing Benefit scheme.
The new benefits scheme is sending many council tenant’s rent arrears spiralling. Research conducted by the show revealed that across much of the UK, Universal Credit (UC) claimants owe local authorities an average of £662.56, compared with £262.50 on the Housing Benefit scheme…

Universal Credit was rolled out in Flintshire, North Wales in April 2017. UC claimants there owe the council an …

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Housing First

Housing First is an approach to homelessness that focuses on housing homeless people immediately, whatever their needs, and giving them direct control over their own support and treatment. The programme works by putting people in touch with housing providers, health workers, social care staff and other services.

While there are about 4,750 rough sleepers in England (many with mental health and addiction problems), there are far larger numbers of homeless families in temporary accommodation. Few homeless families have the high support needs of rough sleepers; most are poor. What these families need first and foremost is an adequate, affordable home.

Housing First …

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All Party Parliamentary Group on Land Value Capture calls for urgent action on housing crisis

Tacking the housing crisis requires a concerted cross-party effort at all levels of government from Downing Street to the parish council.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) report Capturing Land Value for the Public Benefit to be published on 31st October 2018 says:

There needs to be greater devolution of Land Value Capture mechanisms to mayoral and local authorities. Following the announcement by the Prime Minister of the government’s intention to remove the cap on local authority borrowing, consideration should be given to a netting of land assets from existing prudential borrowing limits; reform of the 1961 Land Compensation Act, to provide

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Radical Liberalism and Taxes

Radical Liberalism is a distinctive philosophy that presents a superior alternative both to capitalism in its established form and to socialism. Existing capitalism, as propounded by the Conservatives, and socialism as proposed by Labour, are systems both based on the concentration of property and power in few hands.
The central principles of capitalism in its purest form are the free exchange of goods in an unregulated market; limited taxes to pay for limited government, and
private ownership of property.
The central principles of socialism are government control or regulation of the market; high taxes to pay for expanded government services; and government ownership …

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Legacy of Grenfell

One year on from the tragedy of the Grenfell fire a public inquiry is underway to ascertain how such a thing could have happened in a modern building in the middle of London.

What has struck me about this whole event is the frustration and powerlessness that tenants and leaseholders express over the ability to control their own lives and safety.

Property tenure has changed greatly in recent decades. Right to buy has changed the composition of public housing developments. They will frequently include a mix of leasehold apartments, shared ownership and traditional …

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Money in Switzerland

Switzerland’s system of direct democracy includes the right to submit a federal initiative and a referendum, both of which may overturn a parliamentary decision.
Last year they held a referendum on a Universal basic income and last Sunday they had one on re-establishing sovereignty over money creation as per this economist article https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2018/06/09/a-referendum-on-the-way-money-is-created.

The proposal would have brought an end to the fractional reserve banking system in Switzerland. The central bank would have become the only provider of Swiss francs in a full reserve system. In other words, commercial banks would no longer …

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Land Value Tax – Where are we as a party?

ALTER will address this question in our conference fringe at Southport next month to be held on Friday, 9th March at the Ramada Plaza, from 20:15 to 21:30 in the Promenade room.

Leading the discussion will be two LVT experts and experienced Liberal Democrat campaigners – Michael Meadowcroft and Tony Vickers.

All mainstream parties are now beginning to address the Land problem in the context of an ever worsening housing crisis. The Chancellor announced a raft of measures in the last budget including the Letwin review that is to be informed by a number of consultations.

Among these consultations, the Communities and Local Government Committee (CLG) are conducting an inquiry into the effectiveness of current land value capture methods and the need for new ways of capturing any uplift in the value of land associated with the granting of planning permission or nearby infrastructure improvements and other factors . ALTER’s submission will argue that attempts to capture uplifts in land values by one-off levies have largely been unsuccessful and that an alternative is to go for annual levies as with a site value rating.

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Vince speaks at launch of All Party Parliamentary Group on Land Value Capture

Sir Vince Cable opened the proceedings by emphasising the importance of approaching this fiscal reform in a way that was not “tribal or sectarian”. They valued the fact that representatives of four political parties had agreed to form the Group – Liberal Democrats, Conservative, Green and Labour. He noted the idea, in different forms, has been around seemingly forever” but that “very little in reality has happened.” The message was “for goodness sake let’s do something that takes this forward. Let’s have a practical route map”.

Vince noted that the proposal for land value taxation was supported by “a long history of economic reasoning that wants to base taxation on land.” He referred to the report chaired by Nobel laureate Sir James Mirrlees which had argued for “shifting the tax base in this direction on standard economic grounds as well as the practicality of this approach”. But there was also “the social justice point of view: inequalities of wealth, underlying which were land values”.

Vince stressed the problems associated with property development, including distortions in the planning system, the issue of who captures land values, and how to finance infrastructure. He pointed out that an obvious approach to funding was “to look at the appreciation of land value”.

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Christmas Books and Grenfell


In the introduction to his second book on the financial crisis, Vince noted:
“…one of the main tasks of opposition parties to redesign the archaic, inequitable and unpopular system of property taxation… to make council tax more closely proportional to the value of property. A more radical and far-reaching reform would be to give practical substance to long-mooted ideas for the taxation of land… The practical problems of valuation and making the transition from a land market massively distorted by planning have so far frightened away reformers. But such a reform is …

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  • User AvatarTom Harney 12th Dec - 10:00pm
    The issue for us is how to build up enthusiasm amongst the people of the country for membership of the European Union. This means trying...
  • User AvatarDavid Warren 12th Dec - 9:58pm
    @DavidRaw I am not sure what point you are trying to make when you quote a budget from eight years ago. In my article I...
  • User AvatarMartin 12th Dec - 9:26pm
    37% against her in her own party is more than I had guessed, that is more than enough disaffection, irresponsibility, narcissism... whatever you want to...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 12th Dec - 9:25pm
    @ JoeB Name a business, a bank, or any private entity, that has withstood two or more centuries of ever increasing private debt without bankruptcy....
  • User AvatarBernard Aris 12th Dec - 9:25pm
    @ Joseph Bourke Dear Joseph, small nations like us Dutch and the Swiss (and the bi-, if not tri-lingual Belgians: Dutch, French, and an Eastern...
  • User AvatarGeoff Reid 12th Dec - 9:22pm
    At 2pm today I told my wife and a chap who came to do electrical repairs that TM would have a majority of 85. I...