September 2010 Archives

As a reporter in the Mail discovered last Saturday, one of the Coalition parties (no prizes for guessing which one!) will be debating Land Value Taxation at its Conference, next week in Liverpool. The call comes as part of a Motion on Fairness in a Time of Austerity. It merely asks that Lib Dem Ministers be allowed to commission research "to fully assess the viability and practicalities of increasing taxation on wealth - including land ­values".

Ten years ago this month, a small piece of research on Smart Tax (as it was then dubbed) began with the cooperation of Lib Dem run Liverpool City Council. It looked at how commercial property owners and occupiers - and rating professionals - would respond to a switch of the Business Rate basis off buildings and onto land, as had happened in some 20 cities in Pennsylvania which were facing economic distress. The report can be obtained free, as a download PDF, from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Cambridge MA USA.

From then on, Lib Dems have increasingly warmed to LVT. The irony is that, for 13 years under Labour the government chose not to pursue such research. Now we have one of Labour's leadership contenders calling for it!

The closest Britain came to LVT under Labour was an alliance between Lords taking a Conservative or Lib Dem 'whip' trying to get property owners included in Business Improvement District (BID) legislation in 2001 - their 'subscription' to a BID being a supplementary levy based on site value. Labour opposed this idea, which was based on how BIDs work in North America - where property tax is paid by owners not occupiers.

In Britain, it has proved impossible for researchers to access the official data held by certain bodies for tax purposes, unless there is government sanction for it. So long as government remains opposed to any serious consideration of such a radical reform, research is severely constrained. The Lib Dem Motion next week is careful not to call for implementation of LVT: it merely asks for official backing to research.

If PLRG can assist - even with putting the case for more research, let alone doing it - we shall endeavour to do so.

The Professional Land Reform Group (PLRG) is pleased to announce that London South Bank University has offered to host its bi-monthly meetings, starting with a talk by PLRG Chairman Dave Wetzel entitled China needs LVT next Thursday 6pm.

The venue is Borough Road building of LSBU (103 Borough Rd, SE1 0AA), Room B172. Travel directions

Please let Tony Vickers know if you are coming. The event is free to PLRG members and to those interested in joining. You are receiving this because we think you are in one of those categories.

The Progress Report, an American online publication, has regular features on China. Recently it featured one that said "China Adopts Hong Kong's Land Model". Good - because it means the state retains freehold and much of the value of land as public revenue; bad (says Professor Fred Foldvary, another contributor to Progress) - because the leases are too long, so leaseholders capture too much of this value in times of rising prices.

The next talk in the series will be in November, was to be by Dr Rana Roy on The Fall & Rise of Australia's Resource Taxing Government - very topical! Unfortunately he has just told us that he is unable to return from 'down under' by then, so we will have defer the topic for now. Dr Roy had been an adviser to the previous Australian PM.

Meanwhile we would greatly appreciate ideas for our November talk. One that we are pursuing is Land Use Futures: the Foresight Study Report earlier this year - and what has happened to its recommendations. The very first paragraph in the Executive Summary of the report said: "...It demonstrates that there is a strong case to develop a much more strategic approach: to guide incremental land use change, incentivise sustainable behaviours, and to unlock value from land." Can anyone recommend a speaker on this? Ideas to Tony Vickers

PLRG is very grateful to Professor Munir Morad, Head of Department of Urban, Environment and Leisure Studies at LSBU and Joint Editor of Local Economy, for hosting its meetings.

Ideas for future talks or other PLRG events are always welcomed. The PLRG committee will discuss these immediately prior to each meeting and develop a programme of activities for the remainder of the academic year.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

August 2010 is the previous archive.

October 2010 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.