DAVID Cameron yesterday ruled out introducing a so-called mansion tax on large houses – or any other kind of wealth tax on assets – but insisted that the well-off would “pay their fair share” towards reducing the deficit.
The decision to reject a wealth tax – which could have taken the form of new council tax bands for homes worth more than £2m – is a blow to the Lib Dems, who had demanded it as a condition of backing further austerity measures.
The Prime Minister told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: “I don’t actually believe we should be a country where if you work hard, you save, you buy yourself a house... I don’t want to be a country that comes after you with a massive, great tax, and so that is not going to happen... We will always be fair and be seen to be fair.”
Meanwhile chancellor George Osborne yesterday confirmed that council tax payments will be frozen for a third consecutive year, worth around £80 for a Band D house. He told the Mail on Sunday that adding new council tax band for larger houses was a “tax snoopers charter”.
Defending the decision to cut the top rate of income tax from 50p to 45p, Cameron said it raised little extra money: “The richest one per cent in our country are not only paying more in income tax they are paying a greater percentage of the total income tax take then they ever did under Labour... We are going to take further action to make sure the wealthiest people in our country pay their fair share towards deficit reduction.”
However the Prime Minister failed to provide any further details on what form the new taxes would take, or when they would be implemented.
Robert Halfon, Conservative MP for Harlow, told City A.M. that he welcomed the move to reject a wealth tax: “To tax property is the least Conservative thing you could do. While cutting council tax and cutting rail fares is all about reducing the cost of living, mansion taxes are just gesture politics,” he said.
On the first day of the Conservative party conference in Birmingham the Prime Minister indicated he would not seek an in/out national referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, instead promising to renegotiate the country’s relationship with Europe if the Conservatives are re-elected in 2015.
This could include tighter restrictions on EU citizens working in the UK, with Cameron expressing concern about the number of foreign workers in UK factories while “we have got so many unemployed people in our country”.
Meanwhile new party chairman Grant Shapps agreed with a comment during an interview on LBC Radio that the last six months of government had been an “absolute shambles”. When pushed, Shapps admitted: “Yes. I mean, let’s be blunt about it. Things don’t always go according to plan. That’s life and that’s government.”