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