Article about how land affects the average person in the UK. You may find interesting. This is not spam or trolling.
The UK has a very big problem that lies at the root of many of its problems; it is the usage and ownership of “land”. Most people are not aware that land is a big problem that affects just about every man, woman and child in the UK. This problem has been effectively suppressed.
The value of land accounts for 2/3 of the value of the average home in the UK - a very big problem.
Some points relating to high land prices:
a) House Prices Are Far Too High - The people of the UK pay very high prices for very small high density homes. UK house prices are amongst the highest in the world in comparison to comparable countries. The more land is a greater part of the total house price the higher house prices become. An acre of agricultural land can be purchased for £2,000, a complete eco kit home for £20,000, yet the average price of a house in the UK is near to £200,000. Obtaining planning permission to erect a house in the countryside in a country with a land surplus will be near impossible. Few people realise that the high land value is the reason why their homes are so expensive.
In the United Kingdom the average home costs seven times the average annual income. In the U.S.A. people pay three and a half their annual income on a home. In the United Kingdom the average size of the home will be 330 square feet per person, while Americans occupy 750 square feet per person. In the UK, on average, homes cost twice as much and are half the size as in the U.S.A.
Over a period of thirty years, real house prices in the UK rose up by around 3% per annum while remaining stable in Germany and Switzerland.
b) High Land Prices Disrupt Family Life - High land values cascading into high house prices entails that both parents of homes in the vast majority of families need to work to pay mortgages to keep a very small roof over their heads. Only about 8% of UK families have the wife at home full time. This breakdown in traditional family life results in the latch-key kids, who all too often end up as delinquents and in trouble. Vandalism and graffiti is rife in the UK giving the country a very poor image.
c) People Priced Out of Housing Market - The problem of not allowing people to build on land is surfacing in parts of the country where people with low incomes and in some cases not so low, are being priced out of the housing market. Many cannot afford to live in the towns, villages and city districts where they were born and brought up, having to leave splitting family groups. Many of these towns and villages are surrounded by low grade land which lays idle through public subsidy. Small builders and individual selfbuilders are eager to build on this land to fill the local housing gap; however they are prevented from doing so.
This artificial shortage of available building land reduces home ownership. Home ownership in the UK is at 68% which is lower than Spain, Finland, Ireland, Greece, Australia and New Zealand and very close to rates in Italy, Portugal and Luxembourg.
The land is not serving the people. Not only that, it financially penalises the people.
d) Houses Far Too Small - The averaged sized new home in the UK is a paltry 76 square metres, while in Germany with a similar population density new homes are 109 square metres, nearly half as much again in size. In Australia the average sized new home is 205.7 square metres, in the Netherlands 115 square metres and in Denmark 137 square metres. Danish rooms are twice as big as the hutches now on offer in the United Kingdom. In Japan, a country once notorious for small homes, the average sized new home is now 140 square metres.
The averaged size living room in the UK is a miniscule 13 foot by 15 foot; a room which has to function as TV room, children’s play room, entertainment room and relaxation room. If the averaged sized man stands in the middle of a typical British living room and stretched out an arm he will hit either a wall or ceiling. British TV has many programmes dedicated to giving a larger feel to a room by careful choice of furnishing and colour co-ordination. People attempt to create an impression of space in undersized homes.
The housing charity, Shelter, estimate 500,000 households are officially overcrowded.
e) Consumer Debt Is Mainly Mortgages - The media is full of tales of high consumer debt in the UK. Few state that 80% is actually mortgages, not debt for luxury goods; giving the impression the people of the UK are financially reckless and decadent. In short, people pay extortionate amounts for a tiny roof to keep themselves warm and dry.
f) High Land Prices Discourage Commerce and Industry - High land prices result in high rents, which are passed onto commerce and industry. Many foreign investors and companies have been discouraged from establishing in the UK because of uncompetitive rents.
g) People Prevented From Building Affordable Homes - Preventing people from building affordable homes in the countryside forces them into urban areas where many will be given publicly owned or subsidised homes, paid for from taxes. We pay from public money, which could be better spend on needy projects, to house people who would otherwise pay for and build their own homes. This is obviously a ludicrous situation. Taxpayes money keeps land idle and is also used to house people. Better use can be made of public money.
h) Land is at Root of Traveller Problems - Approximately 300,000 people in the UK travel the roads in caravans, effectively homeless. That is population of a small city out on the road. Some traveller societies, mainly the original Gypsies, have deep routes and traditions of travelling, most do not. Many have become a nuisance to the wider society and are firmly unwanted and unwelcome wherever they set up camp. The root cause that initially forced theses people onto the roads was access to land to live on. The Irish travelling communities originated when Ireland’s land was owned by a handful of people forcing these people off the land they lived on. Many of the travellers in the UK originate from Ireland. Most traveller families want a permanent place to live. The evictions of Travellers caravans from land they actually own when attempting a permanent settlement clearly demonstrates this. If travellers were allowed to build permanent homes the problem would be alleviated.
i) Immigration is encouraged by boom and bust construction - The planning and land system in the UK does not promote a stable constant construction industry, which is the bedrock of many countries as it is labour intensive. Because of the nature of UK planning and construction and lack of available land released to build upon, housing is always falling behind demand in many respects. When the situation worsens the government steps in to attempt to rectify the housing problem - invariably using taxpayers money. This boom and bust means that when a housing boom in on, the country is despartely short of skilled consutruction skills. These skills are then imported from aboard, as currently around one million Eastern Europeans are filling the gap. If the planning system was relaxed and land freely available to build upon in urban and country areas, then construction would be a constant and stable industry, out of the hands of a few construction companies and not requiring large scale immigration to fill temporary skills shortages.
- Strange that land can be the root of excessive house prices, however very true.
- Strange that land can be the root cause of much child and teenage vandalism, however very true.
- Strange that land can be the root cause of forcing people out of their home towns and villages, splitting up families, however very true.
- Strange that land can result in homes being far too small, however very true.
- Strange that land can be the root cause of disrupted families, however very true.
- Strange that land can discourage business and growth, however very true.
- Strange that land accounts for vast profits by financial institutions lending money for homes with inflated prices, however very true.
- Strange in that land increases the tax burden on subsidised homes, however very true.
- Strange in that land created, and maintains, the problem of the travellers, however very true.
- Strange in that land encourages immigration with the social problems different cultures and religions bring with it, however very true.
The above is all very true, yet few would associate the problems with land and its usage.
THE UK HAS A LAND SURPLUS
Contrary to popular belief, the UK has approximately only 7.5% of its land settled upon. The Urban plot of 4 million acres is only 6.6%. The UK actually has a surplus of land. Despite claims of concreting over the South East of England, only 7.1% is settled with the Home Counties being underpopulated. The North West of England is densest with 9.9% settled.
So why does land account for 2/3 of the value of the average home, with all the negative spins offs, if we have all this land available?
Quite simply, the deliberate creation of an artificial land shortage, which ramps up land prices.
What creates this artificial land shortage?
The 1947 Town and Country Planning act, introduced by a “Labour” government, who promised land nationalisation during the 1945 general election, herds people into small isolated highly dense pockets of land in urban areas. Amazingly the Labour government allowed the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) to be involved in drafting the act. CPRE was formed by large landowners. They influenced the act to suit themselves. The naïve Labour administration at the time accepted their input. Over 90% of the population now live in urbanised areas, the second highest percentage in Europe, leaving the countryside virtually empty, because of this draconian act. This crams near 55 million people into around 7% of the land, which is only 4.2 million acres out of a UK total of 60 million acres. 60 million people own just 6% of the land.
The act prevents us from building on the countryside, even though much of it is being paid to remain idle by taxpayers money. A countryside that has lost people at an alarming rate over the past 30 years. The people of the UK are forced into tight urban pockets paying extortionate prices for land, and subsequently houses. Their taxes are used to reinforce this bizarre situation by paying to:
1. Keep land unused to maintain an artificial land shortage inflating house prices.
2. House people unnecessarily in public funded housing.
3. Overwhelmingly control where people can live
This adds insult to injury. A contemptuous slap in the face.
The Town & Country Planning act is in effect an act to control people, rather than ensure adequate agricultural land is available, protect areas of natural beauty or promote first class habitation. The latter it certainly does not do.
Who are the biggest benefactors of this artificial land shortage?
a) Primarily Large Landowners.
The ludicrously small figure of 0.65% of the UK population own 68.3% of the land, many are aristocratic families dating back many hundreds of years. Despite propaganda stating that the British aristocracy is poverty stricken and exists no more, they have managed to hang on to their lucrative acres very well, and in many cases expand their empires.
The root of this situation came about from the Norman conquest. The Normans gave land to people who were favourable to them. In short, many of these families were traitors to their own kind conspiring with invaders. The Saxons had a very different approach to land, its ownership and usage. Later, the enclosures of common lands and the Highland croft clearances completed the land rout. The situation has never been rectified.
The UK still has this landowning aristocratic legacy, which still, despite propaganda stating otherwise, has a large effect and influence on the British people. Large landowners are part of the British establishment and do everything in their power to keep the status quo. The late Enoch Powel described the British establishment as “the power that need not speak its name”. A very astute description.
Most of these landowners produce little making their vast profits by taking rent. When the media reports that times are hard for farmers, they omit the word “tenant”. It should be “tenant farmers”. When times are bad the landowner always gets his rent, or takes the farm back, paying no taxes on it when idle, and leaves it until times are better.
To justify their monopolies in land ownership, large landowners state they are only custodians of the land and only they can maintain the land properly. “Maintaining the land properly” is rather open and vague, if they ever do such a thing of course. If these people are only custodians and looking after the land for our benefit, then why aren’t the public allowed on uncultivated land? These custodians fence off all their lands and only allow on people when forced to by law. Their claims clearly do not hold water.
The UK has never had a revolution, which tend to strip away the vested interests of entrenched landowning rich. No political party has had the stomach to face up to large landowners, who are a legacy of our totally unjust past. Landed families infiltrate the top brass of the military. In the 1960s and 1970s, there were two planned military coups against the reforming Wilson government as many in the British establishment thought, amongst other things, he would nationalise land. After all, in 1945 Atlee promise land reform, but ran out of time, so Wilson, a major part of the Atlee government, should carry out the promise when the Labour party returned to power, which he mysteriously never did.
Tony Blair ejected from the House of Lords 66 hereditary peers, who between them owned the equivalent of 4.5 average sized English counties. The Royal family controls approximate the size of one average sized English county. The Duke of Argyle owns vast tracts of Scotland. Historically landowners have been a problem; the Irish famine was a direct result of large landowners. The problem is still with us and in many respects even greater. With large landowners being omnipresent in the Palace of Westminster, land reform would always be difficult if near impossible. Tony Blair ejecting hereditary peers is the first step in land reform, as one barrier has been partially dismantled.
"Stop to consider how the so-called owners of the land got hold of it. They simply seized it by force, afterwards hiring lawyers to provide them with title-deeds. In the case of the enclosure of the common lands, which was going on from about 1600 to 1850, the land-grabbers did not even have the excuse of being foreign conquerors; they were quite frankly taking the heritage of their own countrymen, upon no sort of pretext except that they had the power to do so." – George Orwell.
"Except for the few surviving commons, the high roads, the lands of the National Trust, a certain number of parks, and the sea shore below high-tide mark, every square inch of England is `owned' by a few thousand families. These people are just about as useful as so many tapeworms. It is desirable that people should own their own dwelling houses, and it is probably desirable that a farmer should own as much land as he can actually farm." – George Orwell.
b) Large Construction Companies.
Approximately 80% of all homes built in the UK are built by about only 20 companies. In no other country in the western world does such a monopoly exist. The sort of situation seen in banana republics. The House Builders Federation influences the building regulations so heavily in order to maintain the status quo that the UK is backwards in house building technology compared to large parts of Western Europe, Scandinavia and North America. The House Builders Federation opposes any increase in building regulations that they perceive will eat into their members vast profits. They opposed all increases in insulation standards and in 1990 described the proposed insulation increase as “a cosmetic exercise”.
Graham Chapman, the founder the Lotus motor car company, wanted to make the best sports cars, and aimed to do so. Large house developers only want profit not caring about the poor quality dross they serve up. None want to build the best designed and constructed houses. As no Graham Chapman is present in the British construction industry, they will have to be legislated into leading edge advanced designs and construction.
The deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has verbally ordered developers to adopt advanced technology and improve the renowned poor quality of new homes. Otherwise he says he will intervene. However, there is no legislation to force the issue, although Prescott’s famed left hook might. If there is a change of government or minister would the successor have the same drive as Prescott? All encouraging, however without firm legislation as the driver, quite hollow.
It comes as no surprise that amongst the richest people in the UK are landowners and construction company owners. The richest man in the USA is Bill Gates a creator of software products that people benefit from – he is productive, he produces. In the UK, the richest man is the Duke of Westminster, who primarily takes in rent.
c) A Poor Performing Industry
Far too much land is given over to agriculture, which only accounts for about 2.5% of the UK economy. This poor performing over subsidised industry is absorbing land that could be better used economically in commerce and for much needed spacious higher quality homes for people. Much of the land is paid to remain idle out of our taxes. The UK could actually abandon most of agriculture and import most of its food, as food is obtainable cheaper elsewhere.
50% of the EU budget is allocated to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). CAP is supporting a lifestyle of a very small minority of country dwellers in a poor performing industry. In effect that is its prime function.
The city of Sheffield, a one industry city of steel, was virtually killed by allowing imports of cheaper steel from abroad. This created great misery and distress to its large population. Yet agriculture is subsidised to the hilt having land allocated to it which clearly can be better utilised for the greater good of British society.
The justification for subsidising agriculture is that we need to eat. We also need steel and cars in our modern society, yet the auto and steel industries were allowed to fall away to cheaper competition from abroad, and especially the Far East. Should taxpayers money be propping up an economically small industry that consumes vast tracts of land that certainly could be better used? What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
The overall agricultural subsidy is about £4.5 billion per year, up to £6 billion if BSE and Foot and Mouth is taken into account. This is £6 billion to an industry whose total turnover is only £15 billion per annum. Unbelievable. This implies huge inefficiency in the agricultural industry, about 40% on the £15 billion figure. Applied to the acres agriculture absorbs, and about 16 million acres are uneconomic. Apply real economics to farming and you theoretically free up 16 million acres, which is near 27% of the total UK land mass.
This is land that certainly could be put to better use for the people of the UK. Allowing people to spread out and live amongst nature is highly desirable and simultaneously lowering land prices. This means lower house prices which the UK desperately needs. Second country homes could be within reach of many people, as in Scandinavia, creating large recreation and construction industries, and keeping people in touch with the nature of their own country. In Germany few people do not have access to a large forest which they tend to walk in at weekends. Forests and woods are ideal for recreation and absorb CO2 cleaning up the atmosphere. Much land could be turned over to public forests.
Why is this artificial land shortage tolerated by the people of the UK?
Quite simply the large landowners have waged a subtle highly successful propaganda campaign that has convinced the people of the UK that they do not have enough land and that nothing should be built on open countryside and that sterile greenbelts should keep them accessing the countryside. Propaganda may appear too strong a word, however propaganda it certainly is. Large landowners point to very large countries like the USA and Australia as proof the UK is small with open countryside scarce. When viewing the UK in isolation it is not small and can easily support its 60 million people and even lots more. Open countryside is in abundance. In persons per square kilometre the UK is about equal to Germany, yet Germany is not viewed as being small and short of land. The propaganda campaign has been so successful, you will find poor people in inner city sink estates agreeing that the countryside should not be built on; people who probably have never even stepped on a field.
Emotive terms have been formed and liberally used such as concreting over the countryside and urban sprawl. With only about 7.5% of the land settled, we can’t concrete over the countryside even if we wanted to. About two thirds of all new housing is built within existing urban areas with the remainder mainly built on the edge of urban areas. Very little is built on open countryside.
Cities have a natural footprint limit. The generally accepted limit is that if it takes over an hour to travel from one side to the other its expansion naturally tails off. In olden times this hour was on foot or on horseback, now it is in cars or on public transport. So we can’t “sprawl” too far either. In England the area of greenbelt has doubled since 1980, with nearly 21 million acres absorbed in total. The UK actually has greenbelt sprawl.
Greenbelts, extensively introduced in the 1950s, were intended to be narrow and primarily used for recreation by the inhabitants of the towns and cities they surrounded. The belts were expanded in width, but continued to be used for farming. The shire counties used greenbelts to hold back the disliked populations of nearby towns and cities. Recreational uses disappeared and the greenbelts became green barriers to keep large numbers of urban inhabitants from mixing with a very small number of rural residents. This is a clear case of the few exercising their will over a massive majority. Often these greenbelts were not even green, containing industry and intensive industrial agriculture.
The biggest propaganda organs are: the Council for the Protection of Rural England and the Countryside Alliance. Green movements like Friends of the Earth have been accused of being fronts for large landowners. Large landowners use green groups to keep people out of the countryside. The former is an organisation formed by large landowners and the latter is funded by large landowners. Their angle is keep the status quo by keeping townies out of the countryside, and also keeping villagers in villages. A Cabinet Office report described the countryside as, “the near exclusive preserve of the more affluent sections of society.”
The Council for the Protection of Rural England have protected little of the character of the English countryside since world war two, despite their claims. In 1940 the German air force took photo reconnaissance photos of largely southern England. The captured photos, when compared to the ordnance survey maps of 1870, 70 years before, clearly indicated there was little difference in topology. When compared to the ordnance survey maps of today, there are vast changes. The 1947 T&C planning act just allowed landscape raping agriculturalists, who contribute no more than around 2.5% to the UK economy, to go wild.
The Council for the Protection of Rural England claim to be acting in the interest of the land, wildlife and the countryside in general. This is far from the case. It is the obscene profits of large landowners they are primarily interested in, protecting little of rural England.
Land reform must mesh with decent relaxed planning laws that allow people to build on all land. Laws passed relating to land are rendered sterile if relaxed planning laws are not implemented. Areas of natural beauty, SSSI's, national parks, industrial and commercial sectors etc, of course should have restrictions, which still leaves a vast amount of subsidised field Britain to build on. Building on a larger mass of land will eliminate the unappealing high density, high impact developer estates; the sort that make people shudder, with many having to buy as they have Hobson’s choice. When people are weary of building on the countryside they envisage high density, high impact developer estates. The vision of these estates stirs negative emotions. That clearly would not occur if the people are allowed to spread out on the land. With cheaper land, people would build larger houses on larger plots for less money. Having the large developers curtailed will result in a mixed assortment of higher quality homes.
The autonomous house is virtually here. Superinsulation, septic tanks, combined heat & power units, grey water re-cycling, rainwater harvesting, wireless communications, mobile phones, amongst others, are all here. These houses have a low impact on the environment. Connection to urban utilities is no longer necessary. Locating homes with all modern conveniences, just about anywhere in the UK is now feasible. Herding people into urban communities because they offered basic utilities no longer need be the case.
A farmer can build a 40 foot ugly concrete barn structure without planning permission. The agricultural industry in some areas has blotted the landscape as far as the eye can see with polythene tunnels to grow fruits of which some are not native to the UK. If a good looking house was built to the local vernacular visually enhancing the countryside, without planning permission, it would be pulled down by the authorities. Houses are deemed to blot the countryside and undesirable, yet raw concrete and polythene is not, and is accepted.
We should be living amongst nature, not having to drive out to see it. Walking on land is another matter, as most of it is fenced off.
"The vast majority of the British people have no right whatsoever to their native land save to walk the streets or trudge the roads” – Henry George.
Countryside organisations are demanding all city brownfield sites be built on. We now have an ideal opportunity to leave most of these sites vacant, cleaned up and made natural again by turning them into parks, woods and encouraging wildlife for the local people to enjoy. This is an ideal opportunity to improve brownfield areas, improving the quality of life of urban dwellers righting the wrongs of the incompetent planners of the past. Areas like Hampstead Heath should be actively encouraged. Woods in towns and cities would also be a great bonus. The deliberate differentiation between town and country requires abolition as the Town & Country planning act attempts to divide. Using the words town and country sets the tone. It creates conflict. It creates two separate societies. It creates distrust.
When presenting an advanced German Huf Haus house on TV, Quentin Wilson stated that modern architecture in Britain ceased after world war two. Quentin was totally correct. The 1947 Town & Country Planning act curtailed advancement in design, being hostile to change. Top British eco architects Brenda and Robert Vale left the UK to practice abroad, disillusioned at a planning system that firmly restricts advancement.
The 2004 PPS7 planning law, may hopefully pave the way for people to live back in the countryside and build individual homes on greenfield sites. The proviso is that it must be an eco house, well designed, modern, with advanced construction techniques. Taken from the act:
Planning Policy Statement 7: Sustainable Development in Rural Areas
“11. Very occasionally the exceptional quality and innovative nature of the design of a proposed, isolated new house may provide this special justification for granting planning permission. Such a design should be truly outstanding and ground-breaking, for example, in its use of materials, methods of construction or its contribution to protecting and enhancing the environment, so helping to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas. The value of such a building will be found in its reflection of the highest standards in contemporary architecture, the significant enhancement of its immediate setting and its sensitivity to the defining characteristics of the local area.”
The PPS7 law, which on paper actively encourages advanced eco design and construction, is a positive step. If PPS7 is implemented anything like the previous PPG7, Gummers law, which permitted building houses in the countryside, then hope is lost rendering this law a cosmetic exercise. Approximately 100 houses were built in the countryside under Gummers law from 1997 to 2004, a figure is so low not worth considering. Theoretically you could build, however the planners would block proposals at every angle and opportunity rendering the law virtually useless.
A planning policy based on the French approach is worth pursuing. There are no central quotas for housing, with houses being built almost anywhere provided the local community supports the proposal. The system works well and caters for the needs of communities. The British planning system does little to assist in alleviating the perennial British housing crisis.
1. Nationalise Land
2. Redistribute Land.
3. Land Value Tax
1. NATIONALISE LAND
In theory, the Queen, the state, owns all the land in the UK. A nation state has sovereignty over its own territory. In short, it owns all the land. So how can individual people own its land too? Sounds like horse trading. A workaround was to grant an infinite lease on the land, the title, and the ability to sell on the lease. Effectively this is land ownership by individuals or organisations.
For the state to take direct control of land would be a difficult task to undertake. It would not be generally accepted by the people, although they own it anyhow. Compensation would be demanded by landowners. Compensating large landowners would be akin to compensating slave traders when slavery was abolished; as the British government did. The concept of “land ownership” has been in the western psyche for hundreds of years, and redirecting their mindset would be difficult and lengthy.
The Labour Party’s 1945 manifesto, stated “Labour believes in land nationalisation and will work towards it” and “as a first step the State and the local authorities must have wider and speedier powers to acquire land for public purposes wherever the public interest so requires”. Labour took that ‘first step’, however future governments have been unwilling to take the second and much larger one. Nationalising land would mean some form of lease back arrangement, in which the government would receive rents. Of course, a relaxed planning system must accompany such nationalisation, to allow people to freely live on the land.
2. REDISTRIBUTE LAND
Most major western nations have re-distributed land having laws preventing large areas of land being in the hands of a few people. These countries generally have a higher quality of life than the UK because of their sensible land laws. The British government started the ball rolling in the late 1800s to re-distribute land in Ireland. It was accomplished in 2000 with the Irish Land Commission being disbanded completing the task. The land had to be bought from the larger landowners, none was confiscated. Land re-distribution in Ireland has been attributed as one of the platforms of its economic success. Large landowners were a direct cause of the Irish famine, which eventually resulted in the Irish rebellion. Land being in the hands of a few is not ideal from many aspects.
The British government is to pay for land re-distribution in Zimbabwe - using British taxpayers money. The British government can re-distribute land elsewhere in the world, but fails to do so in its own backyard. A backyard screaming out for land and planning reform.
In 1945 the USA assessed Japan and how it should cope with the future. They assessed that land ownership was a major obstacle, being in the hands of a few people. To great effect land re-distribution was forced on the Japanese, being attributed as one of the keystones of their post war economic miracle.
Land re-distribution is effective. It may mean large landowners will have to sell parts of their estates, with laws capping land ownership levels. Of course, a relaxed planning system must accompany such re-distribution, to allow people to freely live on the land.
"We need to unlock and allot land on a far wider scale than anyone in this country has so far contemplated." - Ferdinand Mount (ex head of Margaret Thatcher's policy unit)
3. LAND VALUE TAX (LVT)
Henry George, an American, the man who devised LVT, initially proposed government ownership of all land, as the people owned it anyhow. Getting it across and accepted would have been virtually impossible. If you say, redistribute land, people cry, “communism, taking away from me what is mine". Henry George realised that people will not accept that you cannot own land. It is in the western worlds, especially the Anglo Saxon, psyche. That is where LVT excels. Own land by all means, but if you own half of Scotland just to shoot birds on, tax will be due on that land, which currently is not the case. LVT will force large landowners to sell land and not hoard it. It will also encourage them to make productive use of the land; if they cannot then they sell it to someone who can make productive use of it.
LVT taxes only the "value" of the land, which is based on the market value of the land. LVT, regards property as the items on the land, not the land itself. Someone in northern Scotland on one acre will pay very little as the land is not worth so much. Someone in central London with one acre pays substantially more.
LVT does not tax an individuals labour, and hence their productivity, which the current system does, holding back advancement.
Currently people's labour and lifestyle is taxed. The more you work, the more tax you pay. If I build a nice extension to my house so my family can enjoy and improve their quality of life, the council tax is raised. Totally ludicrous. There can be two one-acre plots side by side. I want to build an eight-roomed house for my family to enjoy and the man next door a two-bedroom bungalow, so he can enjoy the land for gardening. Under the current system, I pay more than next door in council tax. Under LVT we pay the same as the bricks on the land is not regarded as taxable, only the land is. A large house creates jobs in building the structure and ongoing maintenance, yet the current system suppresses job creation and curtails the quality of life by penalising people who build larger houses. The word large is all relevant. A large house in the UK would be an average house in the USA.
LVT spreads the proceeds of a society’s productivity more evenly than at present. It does not penalise a person’s effort to advance.
“Land should be taxed as much as possible, and improvements as little as possible.” - Milton Friedman (economist)
“I have made speeches by the yard on the subject of land-value taxation, and you know what a supporter I am of that policy.” - Winston Churchill
THE WAY FORWARD
Sort out the land and planning systems and many problems that appear unrelated in British society disappear. It is not a panacea to right all the country’s ills; however it will be a superb base on which to spring from, as other countries have effectively demonstrated, and right many, many of the problems of our unfair and uneven society.
A stumbling block to any reform is general public perceptions. Many home owners perceive that planning and land reform will devalue their homes and result in negative equity. The country appears obsessed with house price values. The reality is cash with value being an abstract concept. In some areas negative equity may be the case, although some opinion is that this would not occur. A fund taken from LVT taxes could compensate those who drop into the trap in the initial transfer of one system to another is a suggestion. As land prices rise with time, negative equity would cease to be a problem.
Clearly the public need to be informed that land, the God given stuff under their feet, without which we cannot survive, is the major problem in their own advancement and actually curtails their current living standards and quality of life. That is the man in the inner city sink estate, the man in the terraced house, the man in the box semi, the man in the executive home and the country villager. Once the public is aware and this suppressed problem becomes an open issue, then the road is clear for land reform no matter what method is selected. Until then land and land tax reformers are sailing into the wind. Emphasis must be moved to educate and alert the average man and how he is directly affected.
DATA ON LAND USAGE
The land cover of Great Britain is 23.5m hectares. Taken from the Office of National Statistics, in 2002, usage was as follows:
Settled land - 1.8m hectares. 7.65% of the land mass.
Agricultural land - 10.8m hectares. 45.96% of the land mass.
Semi-natural land, with much uses as agricultural land - 7.0m hectares. 29.78% of the land mass.
Woodland - 2.8m hectares. 11.91% of the land mass
Water bodies - 0.3m hectares. 1.28% of the land mass.
Sundry, largely transport infrastructure - 0.8m hectares. 3.42% of the land mass.
Many people question the accuracy of the above figures as government departments present differing figures. Nevertheless the figures are a good guide.
The settled land figure includes gardens and other green spaces, which are estimated at around 5%. When adjusted a figure of only 2.5% of paved land emerges.
- The UK has 60 million acres of land in total
- 70% of the land is owned by 1% of the population.
- Just 6,000 or so landowners - mostly aristocrats, but also large institutions and the Crown - own about 40 million - acres, two thirds of the UK.
- Britain's top 20 landowning families have bought or inherited an area big enough to swallow up the entire counties of Kent, Essex and Bedfordshire, with more to spare.
- Big landowners measure their holdings by the square mile; the average Briton living in a privately owned property has to exist on 340 square yards.
- Each home pays £550/ann. on average in council tax while each landowning home receives £12,169/ann. in subsidies. The poor subsidising the super rich. In Ireland where land redistribution occurred, there is no council tax.
- A building plot, the land, now constitutes between half to two- thirds of the cost of a new house.
- 60 million people live in 24 million "dwellings".
- These 24 million dwellings sit on approx 4.4 million acres (7.7% of the land).
- Of the 24 million dwellings, 11% owned by private landlords and 65% privately owned.
- 19 million privately owned homes, inc gardens, sit on 5.8% of the land.
- Average dwelling has 2.4 people in it.
- 77% of the population of 60 million (projected to be more in new census) live on only 5.8% of the land, about 3.5 million acres (total 60 million).
- Agriculture only accounts for 3% of the economy.
- Average density of people on one residential acre is 12 to 13.
- 10.9 million homes carries a mortgage of some kind.
- Average value of an acre of development land is £404,000. High in south east of £704,154, low in north east of £226,624. London is in a category of its own.
- Reservations of land have been placed by builders to a value of 37 billion to build the 3-4 million homes required. The land reserved is almost wholly owned by aristocrats; with none of it on the land registry. This land is coming out of subsidised rural estates, land held by off-shore trusts and companies and effectively untaxed.
- Tony Blair ejected from the House of Lords 66 hereditary peers, who between them owned the equivalent of 4.5 average sized English counties.