At the Green Economy fringes at the Autumn Conference of the EWNI Green Party we renewed our plea for contributions for publication in this journal - and for comment on articles published, or other relevant issues, in the form of ‘letters to the editor’.
Partly as a result, I am pleased to report that three of the items for this issue have been submitted by other members of the group. This is an encouraging start; we will see
At its AGM, the Party has passed the motion below:
This Conference recognises that there is currently a great deal of public opposition to the Council Tax, and notes that other parties are currently campaigning to either reform or abolish the tax. Conference believes that it is vital that the Green Party has a well-considered, coherent and comprehensible policy on local taxation on which local parties and activists can confidently campaign.Such a policy should recognise that: – Council Tax or its replacement must, taken together with other taxation, be adequate properly to fund public services; – there needs to be a fair and viable system to redistribute tax revenues between different areas; – all taxes, including any replacement for Council Tax have to take account of ability to pay; and – land is a finite and valuable resource and a source of wealth that is particularly appropriate as a basis for local taxation. Any taxes levied on land and property should seek to help encourage its responsible use, and should not encourage environmentally destructive or wasteful uses of land nor unscrupulous profiteering from land speculation.
In addition, Conference also notes that Green Party policy is currently to replace Council Tax and Non-Domestic Business Rates with a Land Value Tax (see EC791-793, and LD400-403), but this is also subject to a provision in EC550-551 that communities will be free to choose their own method of local taxes from an (unspecified) range of options.
This Conference asks Policy Committee to initiate a review of the proposals for Land Value Taxation in the MfSS to see if this is the best policy to bring about the aims given above. The result of the review should be the submission to Spring Conference 2005 of either:
a) A detailed policy statement showing how our Land Value Tax proposals would work. Such a policy statement should consider how our proposals will actually affect the money paid by individuals on their properties (giving examples, if possible), as well as making it clear how these proposals differ from other forms of land/property taxation. It should take account of the proposals put forward in the Scottish Parliament by the Scottish Green Party on Land Value Tax.
b) A motion with alternative policy proposals.
The policy review should also consider the following: i) whether or not the provision in EC550 to allow local councils to select their own method of taxation is both practical and consistent with our general policy on Land Value Taxation, and ii) what role (if any) there should be for a central government support grant to local governments, and how adequately our current policy provisions in EC551 address the need for wealth and resource redistribution between different areas.
This is leading to intense e-mail debate among a group of members formed following the passing of the motion. Others wishing to take part should e-mail Brian Heatley [[email protected]] to request inclusion. Hopefully, it will result in improved policy on this issue.
The series of conferences on Green Economics which Miriam Kennet has organised will be followed on 22 January next, by the first under the auspices of the Green Economics Institute – see details on page 143.opposite.
I intend to bring a motion to next year’s AGM to re-introduce monetary reform into the Party’s MfSS – its Manifesto for a Sustainable Society, i.e. its ‘bible’. Anyone interested in developing this motion, a synopsis for it, or a leaflet to distribute at Conference in explanatory support for it, please contact me.
Letter written to Red Pepper in
answer to housing advice given by
Agony Subcomandauntie makes some good points on housing (October 2004), suggesting campaigning to defend council housing, squatting or joining a co-operative. Good advice, but the underlying problem needs to be resolved before the right to good housing is universally achieved.
When we speak of the price of housing going up we are really talking about the price of land, as labour and materials for building don’t vary much. Importantly, it is the economic activity and very presence of the community surrounding a site that actually creates its value.
The answer to the housing crisis is that this community-created land value should be taxed and returned to the community, thereby ending specula- tion and bringing down and stabilising prices. Housing whether rented or bought by individuals or co-operatives would then be at prices people could afford. From then on if subsidies were still required they would be effective, not, as now, immediately translated by the market into higher land prices.
A land value tax (LVT), replacing some other taxes, coupled with an enhanced community involvement in the planning process could be the engine empowering local communities to actually design a sustainable society of their own imagination. Workers’ co-ops, permaculture schemes, housing co-ops etc, instead of being marginal, could become the norm.
Someone will no doubt reply to state the case for land nationalisation, but that would be a bureaucratic and clumsy statist way of returning the land to the community. The mechanics that I have outlined above are a more precise and natural alternative, which actually measures the contribu- tion made by the community to the value of the land.
Martin Childs, Design Ecology 26October 2004