Leaked documents reveal that Labour are planning a “triple tax whammy” that will disproportionately affect London and Southern England. The report, marked “very sensitive”, contains provisions for a “property owner’s tax” that will affect all shop owners, emergency laws to impose new business taxes on firms in wealthy cities to be redistributed to less wealthy cities, and a £500 million “farm tax”.
The report, seen by the Mail on Sunday, is authored by Bill Grimsey, a former boss of the Wickes DIY chain, and is aimed at “strengthening” town centres. The party leadership will discuss the proposals later this month.
One of the most controversial proposals is to is to increase the tax rates paid by firms in more prosperous parts of the country (mainly the south), and cut them is less prosperous areas (mainly the north). Even more controversially, the report says that Labour should backdate the changes three months if it wins power next May.
Rural communities will be especially badly hit if a Miliband government decides to “bring farmland and farm buildings back into the business rate system” by abolishing exemptions for farms from business rates.
Business rates, currently only levied on premises used for business purposes, would also be levied on the owners of the properties even if they have nothing to do with the business.
Business Minister Matthew Hancock told the Mail on Sunday: “Labour tried this flawed and divisive approach in the 1970s. It didn’t work then and it wouldn’t work now. It would increase rents, raise rates and cost residents.
“Instead of penalising those who are doing well, Mr Miliband should focus on helping others learn from their success. Labour has no ideas other than taxing and spending more.
“If shops and farms have to pay more tax, shopping bills will go up, making a nonsense of Mr Miliband’s talk about cutting the cost of living.”
Northern England, which will benefit most from these proposals, is a mainly Labour-voting area, while the south tends to vote Conservative.