The Greens, who launched their manifesto today, have spent the campaign so far telling us all that if they were in power, there just wouldn’t be any cuts. Any cuts in services are a great wickedness that would never happen if they ruled the world.
Given that even Patrick Harvie can’t make money grow on trees, there is only one other possible way this can happen. To raise more in tax. The first part of their plans is to raise income tax for us all by half a percent. How are they going to do that when we aren’t going to have the tax raising powers for most of this coming Parliament thanks to John Swinney letting the power lapse without telling us?
They also propose a Land Value Tax which they say will basically give us everything we could ever wish for which won’t affect ordinary people because the it’ll be the rich who will suffer. What’s not to love about that? Well, I know that there are many Liberal Democrats who think that a Land Value Tax is a good idea and they may be right. However, the Greens’ proposals show that their variant of LVT could well cause problems for the most vulnerable.
They say they will raise £1bn more in tax and 85% of households will be better off. How can that be when the Greens intend to abolish the single person discount for Council Tax meaning that many more households will be worse off. Bear in mind that, yes, some single person households are young, affluent professionals, but many more are struggling single parents.
They are talking about some properties attracting 5 times the level of Council Tax in Land Value Taxation. Presumably they mean in city centres. So what happens if you are a student in Marchmont, or you are not particularly well off? You’ll end up with a tax hike which will force you out of the city, leaving city centres as the preserve of the very rich.
Single pensioners will be hit hard: a “retired person living alone in a big house…would be allowed to put payment off by amortising the cost and securing it against the house value”. So, money that they would have now to pay for things that they need to make their lives independent and comfortable would be handed over in tax instead?
People renting will also be hit and they won’t be helped by the Greens who take an extreme free-market view of rents: “rents may well increase…but the rental market is a function of supply and demand, however, and rents cannot increase to a level where people cannot afford them”. That is bad news, once again, for less well-off people and students in city centres. I spent four years listening to the terrible problems people faced because of a lack of affordable housing. Current private sector rents are not affordable for less well off families. They can barely afford to pay them and have even a basic standard of living. Their plight will be very much worse unless Patrick Harvie can somehow conjure up, in Fife alone, another 12,000 affordable homes.
AlAll of the above was written this morning at around 7:30. I might have known that Jeremy Purvis, who is a smart boy after all, would notice the same thing. He said today:
"People on low and middle incomes will pay more under the Greens. "The Green Party have admitted their plans for Land Value Tax will hit students, single people and pensioners. "Their income tax increase will be paid by pensioners and the low paid."