Tuesday, January 04, 2011

On going to live in George Monbiot's house

A number of commentators have, rightly in my view, ridiculed George Monbiot's plan to tax my mum for having excess capacity in her house unless she takes in lodgers:
"The next step is to reverse the UK's daft fiscal incentive to under-occupy your home. If you live by yourself, regardless of the size of your property, you get a 25% council tax discount. The rest of us, in other words, subsidise wealthy single people who want to keep their spare rooms empty. Those who use more than their fair share should pay for the privilege, with a big tax penalty for under-occupation. If it prompts them either to take in a lodger or to move into a smaller home in a lower tax band, so much the better.
If under-occupation is a symptom, rather than a cause, of inequality - why not suggest sensible ways in which the latter can be dealt with? But it isn't even that all the time. Monbiot takes one of the obvious injustices of the council tax system - taking house size as a proxy for wealth - and not only endorses it but suggests it should be reinforced. Anyone with even a passing acquaintance of the real world could come up with numerous examples of where under-occupancy does not correspond to increased wealth. My mum's case is unlikely to be unusual; 'under-occupation' here is partly as a result of one wage-earner now being pan-breed. She does have a widow's pension, to be fair - but I doubt it matches what Moonbat earns writing shite for Guardian.co.uk. Anyway - and I appreciate some might find this an unsettlingly rightwing argument - the house isn't part of some 'common stock'; it is hers because she bought it.

But I'm also intrigued by the way Monbiot seems to have adopted the sort of economistic reduction so beloved of the Tories when they're talking pants about marriage and the levels of welfare benefits. They think having the 'incentive' of a few measly extra quid makes couples split up. Now Monbiot thinks getting a 25% reduction in your council tax means people turf out flatmates/partners/offspring? I wouldn't mind so much but the figures don't even add up. Two earners split council tax, they separate, both now pay 75% meaning they are now paying 50% more for local... Oh, what's the point? I'm personally incensed by a greater injustice in the world: Monbiot makes arguments that he admits he can "find no research or figures either to support or disprove" them; I do exactly the same thing on this blog - then when I've done that, I have to go and work for a living. It's so unfair!

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