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All News and Articles

  • Country cottage
    Article: Mar 11, 2016

    ALTER Vice Chair Dr Tony Vickers has published a position paper which shows how the housing crisis should be solved through tax reforms, beginning with LVT. At present home owners cream off unearned income from the economic activities of others, a harmful effect which reduces GDP by 20%. He shows that any strategy which reforms only business rates will lead to market distortions, and advocates a Homestead Allowance and combining property and income taxes. The full report can be found at The Real Hope for Home-ownership.

  • London view
    Article: Feb 22, 2016
    By David Cooper

    London faces an acute shortage of developable areas. A new report 'Tax Trial: Land Value Tax for London?' was released today by London Assembly Member, Tom Copley which estimates that a new Land Value Tax (LVT) could provide the incentive to build over 200,000 new homes in the capital.

    Author of the report for the Planning Committee, Tom Copley AM, said:

  • Zurich
    Article: Dec 30, 2015



    Fractional reserve banking (where banks lend out more money than they have in reserve) has made a lot of bankers very rich, but the taxpayer is forced to bail them out when things go wrong. Some of the Swiss are sick of giving money to bankers and have lauched a bold initiative which will now be put to a popular referendum: The Swiss Sovereign Money Initiative.

  • Glasgow Botanics
    Article: Dec 14, 2015
    By Jhonti Bird



    ALTER MEMBER Jhonti Bird reports...



    General Situation in Scotland:

    • In January 2015 the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced her intention to establish a cross-party Commission on Local Taxation.
    • (Link here: http://localtaxcommission.scot/)
    • The Scottish Conservatives chose not to engage and established their own Commission which is yet to report.
    • All other political parties are represented alongside various other NGOs and interest groups such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Citizen's Advice Bureau.
    • The Commission had its first meeting in February and has conducted a number of both sessions, both public and private, throughout Scotland throughout 2015.
    • The Commission was due to report in November but has delayed its publication date until December (likely to be the 8th or 15th).
    • There has been some consensus over the need to reform Council Tax in particular (Non-domestic (business) rates were sadly removed from the Commissions remit at an early stage).
    • There has been no real agreement on the mechanism for reform.
    • The Commission is, therefore, only going to provide a comprehensive range of policy options rather than one clear conclusion.
    • In this respect can be considered less far reaching than the Burt Review of 2006 which covered broadly similar territory.
    • Andy Wightman is a member of the Commission representing the Scottish Greens and has been a strong advocate of a form of Land or Site Value Taxation.
    • The report is therefore likely to make recommendations about the future benefits of LVT but fall short of endorsing the policy directly.
    • Having seen some of the early drafts I would anticipate that it will recommend that more research be done into the separation of building and land prices in Scotland before the introduction of any form of LVT.
  • Electric fencing and gate on Millden Estate, Angus.
    Article: Oct 14, 2015
    By David Cooper

    In a damning report produced for the League against Cruel Sports, Andy Wightman and & Dr Ruth Tingay shows how Scottish grouse shooting estates receive lavish govermnent subsidies. One estate, Glenogil, which is managed as a grouse shooting estate, receives agricultural subsidies from the Scottish Government. The presence of a sheep flock (used to 'mop up' ticks that would otherwise attack the grouse) is sufficient to qualify the estate as an agricultural holding. In 2010, the estate received £368,787 in public funds and in 2011, £346,757. Such taxpayer provided funds allows the building of electric fences and private roads that scar the countryside so that well heeled grouse shooters are saved the effort of trekking across the moors. Meanwhile, employees on grouse estates are paid less than the national minimum wage.

  • Article: Sep 24, 2015

    NO DEBT, HIGH GROWTH, LOW TAX

    Hong Kong's Economic Miracle Explained by Andrew Purves

    Governments around the world are wrestling with the problems of enormous debts, low growth, high unemployment and a gap between the demands of public expenditure and what can be raised through taxation. This problem has been acute since the financial crisis, but has been a hallmark of western economies for decades.

  • Article: Sep 18, 2015

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    Policy proposals

    • Tax on land and natural resource monopoly
    • Free trade - opposed to tariffs, which were at the time both the major method of protectionist trade policy and an important source of federal revenue
    • Supported the use of government issued paper currency such as the greenback. He opposed the use of metallic currency (such as gold or silver) and money issued by private commercial banks
    • Citizen's dividend - proposed to create a pension and disability system, and that excess public revenues from land rents could be distributed to residents "as a right" instead of as charity
    • to end or restrict the use of intellectual property
    • to have government own and manage all right-of-way and "natural" monopolies, such as utility companies and mass transportation,
    • to replace contract patronage with the direct employment of government workers, with civil-service protections,
    • to implement campaign finance reform and political spending restrictions.
  • Article: Sep 11, 2015
    By Dr Tony Vickers

    Ahead of the Housing debate at Bournemouth, ALTER's Dr Tony Vickers has written a paper that points out that the "Housing Crisis" is not really about how many new homes can be built but about how we make better use of the 98% of homes we already have. Drawing on research by the Intergenerational Foundation, he points the finger at massive under-occupation by pensioners of owner-occupied family homes, encouraged by government.

  • Freemans Wood
    Article: Sep 1, 2015
    By David Cooper

    Freeman's Wood is a plot of land on the edge of Lancaster. The land has been used by local people for decades, and they have regarded it as common land, but fencing was installed around it in 2012, resulting in public unrest and reports in the local press.

    The land is owned by a property investment company which is registered in Bermuda, and its owners are thought to be based in Hong Kong. The director of the UK development company for the site is a Punjab-born, polo-playing friend of Prince Charles. His son plays polo with Prince Harry. So this scrubby semi-derelict patch of land has direct links to global economic, political, and social networks.

  • Article: Jul 9, 2015

    Farron and Lamb

    Answers to questions from ALTER from leadership contenders Tim Farron and Norman Lamb have been published on Libdem Voice.

  • Article: Jun 26, 2015

    ALTER is actively advocating Land Value Taxation in Scotland, and has provided a detailed submission to Scottish Local Tax Commission. It is authored by ALTER member John Howell and can be found here.

  • Article: May 30, 2015

    A good article by Edward Lucas on the Economist blog, outlining the economic advantages but the considerable politicial difficulties of introducing Land Value Tax. One of the comments to the article makes the interesting point that China has substantial land taxes which no doubt increases the ability of the Chinese state to invest in infrastructure. Where better infrastructure leads to higher tax receipts, public investment flows. While western nations stagnate due to rent seeking behavior by land owners, the emerging economies in the East forge ahead.

  • George Osborne Banana
    Article: May 3, 2015

    George Osborne wants to introduce Mugabe-style property grabs into the UK. His latest wheeze is to force the sale of private property owned by housing associations to their tenants at a huge discount. The associations will be 'compensated' for this confiscation by the taxpayer. By offering this electoral bribe, he hopes to win votes in marginal constituencies.

  • lakeshore
    Article: Apr 23, 2015

    Is support for Land Value Tax becoming the "new normal"? In yesterday's Financial Times leader ( "UK's weak productivity invites a bolder response") the paper comments:-

    ...the challenge that remains is the dysfunctional market for land. Here, artificial scarcity acts as a tax on all enterprise, and drives up the price of a home (which indirectly raises wages). It also slows down the delivery of better infrastructure. To address this, measures would be needed: land value taxation, the greenbelt policy revisited, even more compulsory purchase of land...

  • Article: Apr 15, 2015
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    2.3 Creating a stable and competitive environment for growth
    In England we will complete the ongoing review of Business Rates, prioritising reforms that lessen the burden on smaller businesses, ensure high streets remain competitive and promote more efficient use of land.