send the Dame your information, discretion assured.
Comments are welcome but do not necessarily reflect the view of the Dame.
Offensive/inappropriate comments will be deleted and the poster banned.

Friday, 24 October 2014


An excellent letter from Nick Paget-Brown.
Another reader wondered why the Dame had not give equal prominence to the Cllr Borwick's well received article in Conservative Home.
She accepts the criticism and the link to the Con Home piece is HERE

Dear Mr Balls,

Since your mansion tax speech at the Labour Party Conference last month, a number of Kensington and Chelsea residents have been in touch with me to express a very great deal of fear and worry about your proposals.

Not one of them is remotely like the “billionaire overseas buyer in a £140m penthouse” that you mentioned in your speech.  The people who have been writing  to and emailing me are just ordinary people who have paid rather a lot of tax already.  Many of them are now retired and on fixed incomes.

Let me be plain, your mansion tax will destroy their well-earned retirements.  Some of them will be forced to move.  You promise in your speech that you will “put in place protections for those who are asset rich but cash poor” but it seems fairly plain already what you mean by that: a charge on their property.  So, not content with taking 40 per cent of their estates when they die, it seems you now plan swingeing additional death duties on a small group of elderly people who have been long-time dwellers in central London.  It is these people who will end up paying your mansion tax, , and in Kensington and Chelsea there are thousands of them, indeed records show that we have more than 7,000 high band homes that have been in the same ownership since council tax records began in 1999.

Your mansion tax payers will be people like Thomas, a retired university lecturer.  He and his wife moved into the borough in 1982. They moved home once in 1994 to a slightly larger house on the same street in Chelsea when their daughter was born. Their home is now worth 82 times their pensions. They simply cannot afford to pay your retirement tax, which is what they call it. 

They will be people like John who worked in the charity sector and moved into the borough in 1975 buying a house just off Kensington High Street where he has lived  with his family ever since. Now retired, he and his wife Helen cannot afford the mansion tax either. 

They are people like Dorothy who was born in this borough and moved briefly during the war and again while her children were young is ‘daunted’ at the prospect of having to start again after 33 years as she is concerned that she will not be able to pay a mansion tax. 

They are also people like Anthony, a retired architect who has lived in the same mansion flat since 1985.  He was looking forward to retirement but is now worrying about how he can possibly pay the tax. 

They are people like Robert and Betty, 89 and 87 respectively.  Robert was an engineer in his time.  They moved to the borough in 1971 and shouldn’t have to be worrying about the tax at their age.

Also fearful is David, a retired accountant who has lived here since 1971 and he is aware of many elderly neighbours who are also in a state of constant anxiety.

And finally (for the purposes of this letter only because I have other case studies I could share) is 62-year-old John.  He moved here in the 1980s.  He isn’t rich, in fact he was made redundant a few years back, but he is still just about comfortable.  He won’t be though if your mansion tax is imposed.  John is a public-spirited sort of person and chairs his local residents’ association.  He tells me that many of his neighbours, some of whom have been resident far longer than him, are getting very anxious as well.

In short, you should stop pretending your tax is aimed at oligarchs, international bankers and the like.  You know perfectly well that mansion tax payers will in the main be older people living in homes they may well have bought many years ago out of taxed income.  Many will simply not be able to afford the tax and will be forced to move, making way no doubt for some real billionaires.  Their alternative will be a painful one: to stay put and watch their homes become an additional liability to their children.

There is another way Mr Balls:  you could say that it was never your intention to drive the elderly from their homes and instead rethink this vindictive proposal.  

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Nick Paget-Brown
Leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea


  1. This is an excellent letter from Nick Paget-Brown.
    There is also a side issue...why should Scottish and Welsh MP's vote on a proposed English property tax? The West Lothian question bought to life.

  2. More special pleading from wealthy welfare junkies.

    Who creates and sustains the value of location that freeholders property occupies?

    The Tories modus operandi is to take money out of the capitalist economy and shovel it into the pockets of landowners.

    Poor widows in mansions are the human shield for banks, landlords and the idle rich.

    1. Don't talk daft...there are very few mansions in London....bloody clown.

  3. A very good letter. Much thought and effort went into preparing it. And the tone shows that the Leader "cares". What a welcome change from the last reptile.

    But it will have no effect if it does not get publicity. It will just end up in the Balls waste paper bin.Did the Hornton Street PR department have a campaign plan? How much editorial coverage did they get? How many speaking opportunities on radio and TV? I have not heard the Leader on the Today programme yet.

    Expensive PR departments need to be able to deliver these things instead of wasting money writing press releases about unidentified UFOs in Ladbroke Grove. You need to re staff the Hornton Street PR team Nick, starting with the top guy. Very lackluster fellow....

    1. Kensington Resident25 October 2014 at 09:40

      Is Fitzpatrick still around? I thought that he had been moved on.

  4. The FT currently reports that a sudden and rapid slide in Central London residential property prices. Homes worth £2 million in Spring 2014, no longer are. Having been grossly inflated by years of dumping of foreign black money in London, this market slide will continue. So who will pay mansion tax at the bottom end?

    The real problem is that council tax valuations are decades out of date. There are also far too few tax bands. The less valuable the home, the higher the percentage of it's value is payable. At the top end a £20 million house pays the same council tax as a £5 million house. A mansion tax is tinkering with a broken system.

    Until a truly comprehensive new property tax system is place, the solution is to revalue every UK home for council tax, with bands from A to Z. Such an exercise requires courage from the government; to anger some in order to spread the tax burden fairly across 100% of the UK population.

  5. Nick Paget Brown standing up for the residents of the Royal Borough?
    Surely some mistake. The man is operating at a level well in excess of his competence.


Comments are your responsibility. Anyone posting inappropriate comments shall have their comment removed and will be banned from posting in future. Your IP address may also be recorded and reported. Persistent abuse shall mean comments will be severely restricted in future.