“Mansion Tax” leaves Hammersmith families in fear

A powerful piece by Jonathan Prynn in the Evening Standard today on the unfairness of Labour’s proposed “Mansion Tax”.

He reports:

“Art dealer James Butterwick paid £340,000 in 1999 for a two-bedroom ground-floor flat in his house near Ravenscourt Park in Hammersmith. He gradually bought out the other flats in the building and now lives in the whole house with his wife and three children.

He is so worried about the impact of the mansion tax that he plans to reconvert it back to flats and retreat with his wife and three children to the confines of an apartment. It would be expensive and hugely inconvenient but at least he will avoid a crippling annual bill he fears would otherwise force him to sell up.

“It’s been a really happy house and we love this street. I’m not a Londoner but it’s what I call ‘proper’ London. But this tax just makes me think ‘Why did we bother?’ If I had known it was on the cards I would never have got involved with this house. It is so anti-aspirational.”

Mr Prynn adds:

“The anger has alarmed senior Labour politicians and grandees in London, including Glenda Jackson and Lord Bragg, who fear a mansion tax backlash could lead to the loss — or failure to win — key marginals in the capital that could cost the party dear at the election.

Karen Buck, Labour MP for marginal Westminster North and a parliamentary aide to the Labour leader, has said she is “very, very anxious” about the risk of homeowners being forced out.

Even no less a firebrand than Diane Abbott, a possible Labour mayoral candidate, described the tax earlier this week as “dysfunctional” and expressed doubts about whether it would raise the money hoped for.

It is a subject on which Tory and Labour politicians have been able to reach rare agreement in Hammersmith & Fulham, the fourth hardest-hit borough in London, with an estimated 7,098 homes in the £2 million-plus bracket.

Mr Butterwick’s Conservative councillor, Harry Phibbs, said the levy “would hit many people living in normal terraced houses in Hammersmith … The impact would be one of social cleansing — driving out those in large houses but on modest incomes to make way for the Russian oligarchs.”

He concludes that some muddled concessions from Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls are “unlikely to quell concerns.” Indeed. If my email INbox is any guide the concerns of residents are growing.

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