The most scandalous break of all
Today’s “pre-budget statement” (pre-election statement) brings no big surprises. Taxes on productive work and employment up, some “stimulus” tax breaks ending. Huge election bribe for pensioners. Token attack on banker bonuses.
One announcement stands out as the biggest scandal of all. Tax exemptions for empty business properties to be maintained. So our property hoarders are to be rewarded, while productive business who might be bringing a product or service and generating jobs can be squeezed out, or forced to pay crippling rents in a rigged market. That’ll do as much as anything of late to suffocate any prospective recovery in the real economy.
It’s bad enough in a small country where space is always at a premium that there should be no penalties for hoarding property. But positive rewards for it are an absolute outrage!
There’s a parallel argument regarding tax breaks for empty residential property. But it’s secondary: residential taxes are much lower, the breaks for empty property are smaller, and there are separate issues with how it is taxed. On the other hand, there’s still a scandal of rapidly rising numbers of empty homes – and no pressure on their owners – in a country where many struggle to house themselves.
 Just in case anyone thinks I have a vested interest, I should perhaps clarify that I am employed by a big company and work from home. So I’m about as far from being affected by this myself as it’s possible for anyone in the UK to be.