Since I started Crayson I have seen the top rate of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) rise from 4% to 12%. That’s a stunning 300% increase in just four years. But am I moaning? I am not against the principle of paying tax when it is spent wisely for the greater good. But I think that there is something larger going on and what I am talking about is London.
In 2013 London generated 22% of the UK’s GDP, with only 13% of the UK’s population – evidentially this 13% are better at making money than the remaining 87%. However, of course, there is a price to pay. Lengthy commutes in crammed transportation, pollution and stress are just some of the added extras that come with working in London. Also everything costs so much more; restaurants, cinemas, food and drink. So it seems that Londoners are just used to paying more for everything, therefore it is no surprise that the 2% of home-buyers who lost out in the SDLT hike are mostly London-based.
The Scottish referendum showed the strength of feeling that many Scots have for either independence or at least some further devolution. It also served to highlight the strength of various nationalistic feelings within the UK – for example, many English MPs calling for English votes on English issues. Is it therefore a natural evolution that regions and cities should have more control over their tax revenues? How much further do things have to go with London subsidising the rest of the country?
Many people have chosen London to live in as it is the best place to work to progress their careers – not necessarily because it is the best place to live. Likewise many people have chosen other places to live – not necessarily because it is the best place to further their careers. Everyone has different priorities and values. If you work in London, you can choose to commute vast distances or you can live in London. You most certainly will have to pay far more than our out-of-London cousins and for something far smaller, and now if you want to move because you have got married or had a child its going to cost you even more.
‘God, Queen and country’ has a modern equivalent: London, England and then the United Kingdom. Mind-sets are becoming more regionalised and I think that a time is coming when London will fight back. I hope that it is able to argue its corner more effectively than it has recently. London is an international powerhouse – not just a capital city. I hope that this country sees the bigger picture of how much London contributes and stops bashing Londoners as they did the bankers.