Sunday 30 September 2012

Croydon North By-election: Here we go again

There is going to be a by-election in Croydon North, probably in November.

One person has already expressed an interest in standing for YPP.

Monday 24 September 2012

Reader's Letter Of The Day

In today's Evening Standard:

Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander are barking up the wrong tree. A wealth tax, and land-value taxation, which many Liberals have long called for are quite simply opposites.

We already have enough taxes on the private creation, exchange and consumption of wealth (income tax, corporation tax, VAT) and it is very difficult trying to raise much revenue by taxing people's savings. Evasion and avoidance would be rife as people registered assets abroad. Not only that, it would clearly be retrospective double taxation.

Conversely, a tax on the rental value of land is purely prospective as people choose to own or occupy those plots which benefit most from public services, public spending and community activities or the state of the economy. There is no scope for evasion or avoidance as you cannot move land abroad and the amount that could be collected is huge.

Business Rates - a kinf of land-value tax on commercial land and buildings - raise nearly as much money as corporation tax and collection rates are nearly 100 per cent. Reintroducing domestic rates at similar levels to business rates would generate enough revenue to replace council tax, inheritance tax and income tax* in their entirety.

Mark Wadworth, Young People's Party.

* My original list was much longer than that, but it got edited down.

The next letter was pretty good as well:

There is no need for a new tax to get the wealthy paying more or give hostage to fortune by setting a single limit over which this extra taxation is paid.

The designer of council tax left enough letters of the alphabet free so that many new bands can easily be slipped in above band H.

In a progessive society, council tax would double with every rise in band over H.

Professor Danny Dorling.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

People who have learned nothing

Allister Heath in the Home-Owner-Ist propaganda sheet City AM points out that hyper-low interest rates are nowhere near as popular - or as beneficial - as the politicians always make out. In truth, they are kept low to prop up banks/bankers and house prices (as well as share prices), so this is just the usual transfer of wealth to the usual suspects.

On balance, polls show that more people prefer higher, rather than lower, rates. One reason for this is that more mortgages are being paid off than taken up. In fact, 47 per cent of homeowners already own their property outright, according to research from Hometrack. If current trends continue, by 2014/15 there will be more outright owners than those with a mortgage.

But he falls at the final hurdle:

The majority of these outright owners will be net savers, and hence will see themselves as losers from low rates (of course, cheap money tends to inflate house prices, boosting all homeowners’ wealth, but those without a mortgage often don’t see it that way).

How does transferring wealth from savers to land speculators boost wealth? It does no such thing; it discourages saving, misallocates capital and impoverishes the next generation of home buyers, that's all. Haven't the last few years taught us, yet again, that land price bubbles are not 'wealth', they are Fool's Gold?

Monday 17 September 2012

Corby Campaign: Day Two

Rohen did his interview with Politics UK, which seems to have gone well. After that we did a retail park and a shopping centre, which wasn't very fruitful, so to round off the day we leafletted a hundred or so houses.

I spent today at the Freshers' Fair at the University of East London, a few people just seemed to 'get it' and one of them joined straight away. I'm back there tomorrow with Robin Smith and Thursday/Friday I/we will be at the London South Bank University Freshers' Fair.

Saturday 15 September 2012

"Overcrowding and under-occupation"

From the DCLG's English Housing Survey 2010-11:

3.1 Levels of overcrowding and under-occupation are measured using the ‘bedroom standard’ (see glossary*). This is defined by the difference between the number of bedrooms needed to avoid undesirable sharing (given the number, ages and relationships of the household members) and the number of bedrooms available to the household. A household is defined as under-occupied if it has at least two bedrooms more than needed, according to the bedroom standard. A household is defined as overcrowded if there are fewer bedrooms available than required by the bedroom standard.

3.1 Data from the three most recent years has been combined to produce the estimates discussed in this section of the report1. This is because the number of overcrowded households interviewed in each survey year is too small to enable reliable estimates to be produced for a single year.

3.2 The rate of overcrowding for 2010-11 was 3% of households. The rate for under-occupation, by contrast, was 37%.

3.3 In the last ten years, the rate of overcrowding has increased slightly, from 2.4% in 2001-02 to 3.0% in 2010-11. This rise was mainly related to an increase in levels in the social and private rented sectors, whilst the rate of overcrowding in the owner occupied sector remained unchanged over this period, Figure 3.1 and Annex Table 3.1.

3.4 Under-occupation was, overall, much more prevalent than overcrowding, and mainly concentrated in the owner occupied sector, where the rate was 49%, compared to 10% in the social rented sector and 17% in the private rented sector. The overall rate of under-occupation in England increased gradually in the last ten years, from 34% of households in 2001-02 to 37% in 2010-11. For owner occupiers the rate of under- occupation increased from 43% to 49%**. In both the social and private rented sectors there was a slight decrease in levels of under-occupation, Figure 3.2 and Annex Table 3.1.

* From the glossary: "The ‘Bedroom Standard’ is used as an indicator of occupation density. A standard number of bedrooms is calculated for each household in accordance with its age/sex/marital status composition and the relationship of the members to one another. A separate bedroom is allowed for each married or cohabiting couple, any other person aged 21 or over, each pair of adolescents aged 10-20 of the same sex, and each pair of children under 10. Any unpaired person aged 10-20 is notionally paired, if possible, with a child under 10 of the same sex, or, if that is not possible, he or she is counted as requiring a separate bedroom, as is any unpaired child under 10.

This notional standard number of bedrooms is then compared with the actual number of bedrooms (including bed-sitters) available for the sole use of the household, and differences are tabulated. Bedrooms converted to other uses are not counted as available unless they have been denoted as bedrooms by the respondents; bedrooms not actually in use are counted unless uninhabitable."

** Hardly surprising, really. If people stay living in the same house after their children have left home, and then still stay living in the same home once they are widowed, under-occupation among owner-occupiers will tend to increase over time. It is only when a home is sold or re-let that the new occupants choose something 'just big enough'.

Conversely, we would expect the level of overcrowding to increase over time as more and more people (those who didn't get on the ladder in time) have to share whatever housing is left over (new supply being strictly limited).

Wednesday 12 September 2012

A common misconception

There's an article on 24Dash about possibly improving 'security of tenure' for private tenants by extending the notice period from 6 months to 2 years if the landlord gives them notice to quit, which might or might not be a good idea (seems fair enough to me, I'd also like to reduce the notice period from 6 months to 3 months if the tenant wants to move).

What is striking is this bit:

[The Inquiry] said successive governments have prioritised owner occupation, but it is now in decline.

No they have not, that's exactly what Home-Owner-Ism, an electoral gold mine originally struck by Thatcher but taken to extremes by New Labour, is NOT about. It pretends to be about "prioritising owner-occupation" but actually what it does is "prioritise those people who happen to be owner-occupiers when Home-Owner-Ism kicked off" and shits on all who come after them.

Look at the official stat's from the DCLG (Excel). In England...

- the number of owner-occupier households is only up by 1.4 million since 1991, and is now falling again, we are back down to 2002 levels in absolute terms and back to the mid-1980s if expressed as a percentage of all households.

- the number of social tenant households (council or Housing Association) is down by 0.5 million since 1991. Note: according to those figures, the social housing stock peaked at 5.2 million in 1981 and is now down to 4.0 million, so they 'only' sold off about a quarter of social housing stock.

- the biggest increase is in private renters, up by 2.2 million since 1991, the bulk of that increase was in the last ten years. Some of those will be renting ex-social housing, but by and large, more than half of new homes built in the last twenty years have been acquired by landlords.

It all stands to reason really, the real driving force behind Home-Owner-Ism is the large landowners and banks; the former love collecting rent and the latter would rather lend to BTL landlords than owner-occupiers, it being far less hassle for the bank if a landlord kicks out a tenant who loses his job than the bank having to kick out a mortgage borrower who loses his job.

Sunday 9 September 2012

Corby campaign: Day One

Rohen and I drove to Oundle in the Corby constituency today and spoke to as many people as we could in three and a half hours.

A few people said that they'd always voted [Conservative/Labour/Lib Dem] and that they weren't interested, and a few genuinely weren't interested, but the vast majority said they were undecided, or really didn't know who to vote for any more; they'd been lifelong [Conservative/Lib Dem/Labour] voters, but frankly, never again, they are all exactly the same and as bad as each other and they were happy to take a leaflet.

So it's all a question of showing people that there is another way of doing things. I got the feeling that plenty of people are prepared to cast protest votes, but they're not really that enamoured with single-issue parties, they want the whole package.

Sunday 2 September 2012

We just got our first mention in a newspaper

From The Northants Telegraph:

The Young People’s Party is fielding a candidate in the Corby and East Northants by-election. In his election blog, Dr Rohen Kapur says that he worked as a junior doctor at Kettering, practising psychiatry.

He says: “I would often visit Corby for interest. The Scottish accent was more familiar to me as I studied medicine in Scotland. I have always enjoyed my time in Northamptonshire and loved the rambling countryside along with the Eleanor Cross at Geddington which is not far from Corby.”

Lord Toby Jug is standing for the Official Monster Raving Loony Party. A musician from St Ives, he is leader of the Cambridge and Huntingdon branch of the party.

The main political parties have already announced their prospective parliamentary candidates with Andy Sawford standing for Labour, Christine Emmett for the Conservatives, Jill Hope for the Liberal Democrats and Margot Parker for UKIP.

Also standing in the by-election, being held on November 15 following the resignation of Louise Mensch, is David Wickham of the English Democrats.