Debate Magazine

As Expected.

Posted on the 09 February 2017 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth

From the BBC:
The housing market in the UK is "broken", according to the government and more homes are needed to cope with demand.
So why don't we use all those properties lying empty across the UK?
In some places in the UK, whole streets are empty because the area is no longer somewhere people want to live. John Bibby from the charity Shelter explains that this is usually for economic reasons, such as local industries closing down.

The potential council tax on such homes, where the location value is nil, is clearly too high. In marginal cases, an exemption from council tax (and business rates) might be enough to tempt people back.
The key to rejuvenating an area has been observed time and again. Get a load of artists, musicians, craft brewers and specialist shops to open up, tempted by low rents and no taxes, then sit back and wait as it becomes 'cool', then higher earners move in, the little shops get replaced by High Street chains etc ('gentrification'). At this stage, the council can re-impose council tax and business rates, the artists and small shopkeepers are priced out anyway (or cash in and sell up), move somewhere else and start again.
Buy-to-leave is becoming a problem in inner cities, particularly London.
Wealthy investors from outside the UK buy homes in new developments, with no intention of living in them or renting them out, simply as an investment opportunity. The estate agent Savills estimates that two-thirds of foreign buyers are investors.
However some local authorities have attempted to clamp down on this with some success, by charging extra council tax on homes left empty for more than two years. In the borough of Camden in London this tactic has reduced the number of empty properties by 40%.

That statistic seems highly questionable to me, but let's take it at face value. In these areas, council tax is clearly too low. Bump it up and you get fewer vacants.
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If you replaced council tax, business rates and Stamp Duty Land Tax with straight Land Value Tax (just for starters), all this would happen automatically of course. Having a Citizen's Income would give low-earning artists, musicians etc an extra push to move there; they can merrily do their stuff without any hassle from the social.


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