Labour mansion tax could force thousands in Camden out of their homes
07:00 02 October 2014
© Nigel Sutton email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thousands of hard-working families across Camden could be forced to pay £12,000 a year or sell their homes should Labour come to power – under Ed Miliband’s controversial mansion tax plans.
The annual levy targeting homes worth £2million-plus was trumpeted by the Labour leader at his party’s annual conference last week as a way of funding 8,000 new GPs and 20,000 more nurses.
But new figures show families across Hampstead and Highgate could be disproportionately affected by the tax, forcing many to consider the bleak prospect of having to sell their homes.
The figures compiled for the Ham&High by estate agents Knight Frank show currently 4,783 households in Hampstead and Kilburn constituency and a further 1,283 homeowners in the Hornsey and Wood Green constituency, comprising a large number of Highgate homes, would be affected.
In Finchley and Golders Green the figure is 2,225, while in Holborn and St Pancras there is estimated to be 3,559 properties worth £2m and above.
"It will impact disastrously on people who are asset rich but revenue poor, particularly pensioners"
Labour leader Ed Miliband insists the measure is necessary to improve services, such as the NHS, without relying on borrowing and will implement it should his party be elected into government next year.
Tulip Siddiq, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, said she has written to shadow chancellor Ed Balls to ask him for more detail on the proposals, especially “what protection there is for people who are asset rich and income poor”.
Labour’s Hampstead and Kilburn MP Glenda Jackson said: “It will impact disastrously on people who are asset rich but revenue poor, particularly pensioners, who bought their houses many years ago and through no fault of their own have seen the value rise because of the ludicrous London house prices.”
Based on estimates that about 100,000 homes nationally will be affected by the mansion tax and that Labour needs to raise £1.2billion to spend on the NHS, the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) says the average levy would be £12,000 annually.
"How can it be a mansion tax when £2m in London will buy you a semi-detached house?"
Red Szell, 44, a blind writer who lives with his family in Gayton Road, Hampstead, believes he will have to sell his home if Labour come to power and introduce the tax.
Mr Szell, who described the policy as “headline-grabbing” and “socially very divisive”, bought his home in 2000 and has since seen it quadruple in value to around £3m.
He said: “Neither my wife nor I are currently employed. We are both writers – we make money when we can. This has been our investment, we didn’t buy shares in the dot com bubble.
“To be honest, it feels like we have been lumped into the same group as corporations who don’t pay their taxes, who are doing something deliberately to deprive people of money.
“I have voted Labour in the past and there is no way I would vote Labour now.”
His neighbour Ernest Wistrich, 91, bought his Gayton Road home for £49,000 in 1977 and has also seen it rise in value to around £3m.
Mr Wistrich, a Labour Party member of 60 years, insists he would bear the burden of a mansion tax and take out bank loans to pay the levy.
He said: “I’ve done nothing to bring it [the house value] to that level. I see no reason why I shouldn’t be able to make a contribution.
“I’d have to borrow some money but I’d benefit from the value of the house ultimately after it is sold. I don’t know if anyone would have to move out because you can borrow money from the bank to pay this tax.”
As yet Labour has kept details on the tax extremely sketchy, besides a vague announcement of the plans by Mr Miliband at last week’s Labour conference.
Some Labour figures, such as prospective London mayoral candidate David Lammy, have called instead for a review of council tax bands, which have not been updated since 1991 to reflect current house prices.
Simon Gerrard, managing director of Martyn Gerrard estate agents and president of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), said the policy would create a “blockage” in the market for £2m homes and would “stop people being able to move up the housing ladder”.
He added: “How can it be a mansion tax when £2m in London will buy you a semi-detached house? It’s all well and good if you’re talking about a massive estate but this relates to hard-working families.”
Cllr Simon Marcus, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, said: “In London this will put tens of thousands of normal people out of their homes.
“It’s a tax on aspiration, it’s a tax on hard work, it’s a tax on London.
“Ed Miliband talked about one nation but he didn’t mean it. Class war is back with a vengeance.
“How could Labour represent you if they are going to put you out of your home?”