In the latest round of economic advice from Brussels bureaucrats, staff at the European Commission have told the Government it should increase council tax on more expensive houses, cut back the Chancellor’s Help to Buy loan guarantee scheme and increase the supply of housing.
They also called for more people to be brought into the tax net to raise revenues, and for an increase in capital spending.
In response to the property boom, commission officials said the Government must make big changes in policy in response to the rapid increase in property prices “in the areas that account for a substantial share in economic growth particularly London”, for example by cutting back the Help to Buy scheme. They must “continue efforts” to increase housing stock.
They called Britain’s system of council tax “regressive,” meaning taxes on expensive homes are relatively lower than on cheaper homes. They said the Government must act to increase the valuation of more expensive houses to “remove distortions” in the tax.
While such recommendations may look like uninvited meddling by many in Britain – in a way David Cameron recently described as, “Brussels has gotten too big, too bossy, too interfering. We need more nation states, Europe only where necessary” — in fact they were drawn up by the European Commission using the increased powers the prime minister agreed to hand over to “enhance coordination of economic policies” in the EU.
New powers for the EU over national budgets and economic policy were part of the Compact for Growth and Jobs agreed by Cameron at a European Council meeting in June 2012. Cameron agreed to submit the UK’s national reform programme to the eurocrats for their annual evaluation and recommendations.