Tag Archives: land value taxation

Why we need a residential Landowners’ Levy

There are two motions for debate at Brighton that I particularly welcome, as founder member of ALTER and campaigner on Land Value Taxation (LVT) for 20+ years. There’s the one on Commercial Landowners Levy (F26), which is based on an excellent paper by four esteemed experts in our Party. Then there’s F34 “Promoting a Fairer Distribution of Wealth”.

Having read both motions, I was unhappy that F34 failed to match the combination of thorough research and analysis in F26 and also falls short on radical policy proposals to address the main cause of wealth inequality: the so-called Land Question. As a …

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The party proposes to abolish business rates: “Taxing Land, Not Investment”

The party has just published a comprehensive blueprint for replacing the broken business rates system.

Ground-breaking research was led by Andrew Dixon, founder of the Lib Dem Business and Entrepreneurs Network (LDBEN), in response to mounting concerns about the negative impact of business rates on struggling high street businesses and the wider economy.

The report – “Taxing Land, Not Investment” – calls for the abolition of business rates and its replacement with a tax on land values, the Commercial Landowner Levy (CLL). The levy would remove buildings and machinery from calculations and tax only the land value of commercial sites, boosting investment and cutting taxes for businesses in nine out of ten English local authorities.

Andrew Dixon said,

By only taxing land and not the productive capital above it, this reform would remove a major disincentive to investment, boosting productivity and contributing to a necessary revival in UK industry. While separate action is needed to ensure online retailers pay their fair share of corporation tax, our proposals would offer a lifeline to struggling high streets.

I am delighted to support this initiative which I believe would boost business and enterprise across the UK, and I am grateful to members of the Liberal Democrats Business & Entrepreneurs Network for their valuable contributions to this important research.

Key recommendations of the report include:

  • Business rates should be abolished and replaced by a Commercial Landowner Levy based on the value of commercial land only
  • The levy should be paid by owners rather than tenants
  • Non-residential stamp duty should be scrapped to improve the efficiency of the commercial property market
  • Commercial land should be taxed regardless of whether the buildings above it are occupied; the tax should also apply to unused and derelict commercial land

The report also finds that:

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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.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | 90 Comments

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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Launch of All Party Parliamentary Group on Land Value Capture

In July of this year ALTER floated the idea of a Progressive Alliance round Land Value Taxation and put out a call for the formation of an All Party Parliamentary Group on Land Value Tax in advance of our fringe at Bournemouth on this theme.

In a pre-budget speech in the City of London this week, Sir Vince Cable laid out Liberal Democrat proposals for tax reform including investigating the feasibility of Land Value Taxation (LVT).

He said;

Authoritative analysis of the British tax system, notably the Mirrlees Report, makes it clear that the taxation of land is the

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged | 37 Comments

It’s time for an All Party Parliamentary Group on Land Value Taxation

The rioting in Hamburg on the occasion of the meeting of the G20 this month highlights the oftentimes violent confrontation that exists between alternative theories of capitalism and socialism, as represented by the established orthodoxy and those that would seek to tear it down.

 At the heart of this conflict lies differing interpretations of economic theory, often depicted simplistically as left v right; Keynes v Hayek; socialism v capitalism; social liberalism v economic liberalism; or progressives v conservatives.

Henry George’s Progress and Poverty envisioned a capitalism that would allow all people to own the product of their labour, but that things found in nature, particularly land, belongs equally to all humanity. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 36 Comments

A progressive alliance round Land Value Taxation?

The Grenfell Tower fire has focused attention on the extent of the crisis in the UK social housing system.

Reverend Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty comments:

There are rows of empty “investments” in London, and the four big builders have 600,000 unused plots in their land banks.

The Liberal Democrat 2017 Manifesto included genuinely progressive housing proposals

  • a new national Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank,
  • increasing housebuilding to 300,000 homes a year
  • allowing councils to end the right to buy, lifting the borrowing cap and targeting “buy to leave” empty homes with a 200% council tax.
  • penalising land-banking with with a penalty on failure to build after three years of winning planning permission.
  •  a “community right of appeal” in cases where planning decisions go against the approved local plan.
  • a “rent to buy” model, where rental payments give tenants an increasing stake in the property, leading to outright ownership after 30 years.

However, the manifesto incorporated only a single sentence with respect to LVT. “We will also consider the implementation of Land Value Taxation.”

Labour’s manifesto went a little further with respect to describing its LVT intentions promising:

 We will initiate a review into reforming council tax and business rates and consider new options such as a land value tax, to ensure local government has sustainable funding for the long term.

The Greens promised “Action on empty homes to bring them back into use and a trial of a Land Value Tax to encourage the use of vacant land and reduce speculation.

The SNP have previously included LVT proposals in their manifesto and at their spring conference this year adopted a resolution “must include exploring all fiscal options including ways of taxing the value of undeveloped land” in its gradual land reform programme.  Other parties like Plaid and the Alliance Party have incorporated LVT proposals in the past.

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ALTER Questions the Leadership Candidates
 on the Land Value Tax and Economic Reform

ALTER is an Associated Organisation within the Liberal Democrats dedicated to advancing the causes of the Land Value Tax and other economic reforms. We chose to use the leadership contest as an opportunity.

We are aware that party policy is not determined by the leader, it is instead determined democratically by members at federal conferences. However, it is our experience that the leader has a large amount of influence in terms of which policies are given priority. So although motions and amendments on the Land Value Tax have been regularly passed at conference with near unanimity, the party has largely been quite shy about the policy, leaving it hidden within the small print of our manifesto rather than properly campaign on it.

For this reason we wished to challenge both leadership candidates as to whether they’d be willing to grasp the nettle and get seriously behind LVT, and also take their view on other areas of economic reform including workplace democracy and monetary policy.
We sent our questions and their responses are below.

Land Value Tax

Whenever the Land Value Tax has been debated at a Liberal Democrat conference, support for it is almost unanimous. While the party has consistently supported introducing the Land Value Tax, it has in recent years been highly shy about it. ALTER had to fight for it to even make the small print in our manifesto.

As leader, would you be willing to grasp the nettle and make it a front and centre policy?

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