Pay No Rent! How to permanently fix the UK’s cost of living crisis

What’s really behind ‘the cost of living crisis’?

BRISTOL 18May22 by Tony Gosling – The cost of living crisis meme is being circulated by the London media since late summer 2021 to describe the disposable income squeeze. Basic costs like food and energy are projected to increase from anything between 25% and 150%, while wages are effectively frozen. On top of that, overall inflation is now 11%, so real wages are falling fast. A rude awakening for tens of thousands every week working all hours God sends but unable to pay the bills.

‘Work’, in the Tory parlance, no longer, ‘Makes You Free’, and is no longer be tauted as a route out of poverty. As Mr Micawber says in Dickens’ David Copperfield, “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen and six: result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six: result misery.”

But the increase in fuel and gas prices cannot be put down to ‘Russian sanctions’ or even the fact that Asia is buying more tanker-borne US Liquid Natural Gas (LNG). If market forces were behind these price hikes we would have not seen the skyrocketing of annual Shell and BP dividends, with combined annual profit now at around £50 billion. Not turnover, PROFIT! Its just good old commodity price fixing. Please, no windfall tax. These utilities need to be regulated back into public ownership. So the poor too can share in their success. Now.

GDP, the debt trappists’ god

Over millennia, the banksters and the racketeer rentiers they sponsor have sought to capture every institution that opposes them by trapping the target in debt servitude. Thomas Cook Travel, Four Seasons Healthcare, BHS, Laker Airways, even the mighty Carillion, all died this way  Most of the developing world, with the notable exception of Gaddafi’s Libya, has been laid waste by unpayable debt. Now it’s our turn. And with the national debt now well over £2 trillion the British state is succumbing fast. A crash is inevitable. We need to ready Plan B’: To, over a year or so, make life’s essentials free.

The obvious principle is to gradually share Britain out so we all have a roughly equal share of the country. But no, even if those who own a tiny plot and haven’t had to sell it to pay for elderly care, still have a home, many, even on ‘the left’, think its cool to take that 16’x80’ plot off the elderly when they die.

Many blame Theresa May’s attempt to float a ‘Dementia Tax’[1] in the 2017 general election for her losing the Tory majority. But Labour went much further in proposals to make more of us landless. Corbyn’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell, with adviser Richard Murphy and others proposed the Lifetime Gifts Tax (LGT) in the pre 2019 general election ‘Land For The Many’ report. Andy Wightman, Marion Shoard, Oli Rodker, Anna Minton, Simon Fairlie and others endorsed this wheeze, despite it raising the number of Brits slated to lose homes on the death of a parent (unless they had substantial savings to pay the tax) from 650k, up to 10 million![2] Authored by George Monbiot, Guy Shrubsole, Robin Grey and others, ‘Land For The Many’ should have been titled ‘Land From The Many’!

Contributor to the Land For The Many report, Professor Richard Murphy, was contacted for his response to press reports[2] saying the Lifetime Gifts Tax could bring twenty times more homeowners into inheritance tax bands which mean they could lose their homes. His response was ‘If that’s what you think, I have nothing to say to you’, and put the phone down.

In ‘Who Owns Britain’ (Ireland, The World) author and former Sunday Times Rich List land specialist Kevin Cahill explains the British people did a pretty good job post-WWII clawing back land and homes from the historic land rentiers. Individuals now have more land than at any time since the enclosures. Does the ‘to each according to his need’ crew really want to stop us passing family homes on? Driving the poorest half of homeowners back into the landlords’ clutches? Do they really believe HSBC or the Rees-Mogg state should own everything?

The True Levellers Standard Advanced by Gerrard WinstanleyGerrard Winstanley and his 1649 Diggers or ‘True Levellers’ raised key questions over private land ‘ownership’, but the rentiers who convince themselves they own this world are waging a secret war through left NGOs on our right to pass on to our kids the basic means to live. LVT campaigners even think homes, market gardens and smallholdings should be taxed. Forced into the money system to boost GDP. No. Genuine Socialists know you tax luxuries and bloated estates, never necessities like a modest self-sufficient parcel, under a few acres of land.

Like Prince Charles and Klaus Schwab the ‘Deep State’ in the City of London want the ‘New Normal’ to see us and our children all living in fear of eviction by them, because that makes us their slaves. Sensing blood Lloyds bank has declared its aim to become the UK’s biggest homeowner by 2030.[3]

The 1947 Universal Declaration of Human Rights spells it out; ‘Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood, in circumstances beyond his control.’ That means an ABSOLUTE RIGHT, even if we can’t pay the rent.

No. we need to extend family land ownership, or an inalienable right to council housing, and gradually get every household their own home with security of tenure for them and their children. Not tax home owners out of existence. That’s why our ancestors invented the ‘copyhold’ tenancy and why the Victorians extinguished it. It made it impossible for a house to be loan collateral and forfeited, guaranteed it would be passed on.

So. lets reduce every family’s living overheads to zero. The real debt is the land the state, feudal barons and banksters stole from us and now they owe us. Tory or Labour, the rentiers love it when we’re landless because we have to pay them every day just for the right to be. That, also, is why neo-Nazi Priti Patel is criminalising gypsies and travellers. There but for the grace of God, go all of us.

If it goes on at this rate Prince Charles and Klaus Schwab will indeed get their way and we will own nothing at all, and they’ll probably put low-grade MDMA in the water, to keep us happy!

House costs: build versus buy shocker!

Ignore the ‘value’ of the land for a minute. Ground clearance, services, foundations, materials and labour to build a three bedroom house, with a life of around 200 years, comes out around £100,000. That’s under £10 a week. The mystery 95% is pure profiteering. The real ‘cost of living crisis’ post globalisation, is the capitalists don’t innovate any more, just clamour to get their precious returns, off our basic essentials.

A lesson from Michael Davitt’s Irish Land League

The most successful challenge to the British crown’s empire-winning landlessness strategy, to keep the poor on their knees, was in 1880s Ireland. Holding the balance of power, the Irish MPs of the 1880s teamed up with Michael Davitt and the Irish Land League to prize out of the government a series of acts of parliament converting the famine-era rack rents into title deeds for the old tenants. Government loans meant they could buy the land and build a decent farmhouse to replace their hovel, on almost every one of the Catholics’ modest holdings in the south.

Overnight, the desperate conditions of tenant farmers who’d been at the mercy of the absentee landlords’ factor, was transformed. And the loan repayments were a fraction of what the old rents had been. We need to take a leaf from the Land League’s book, to rid the land of these parasitic landlords once and for all, and convert those rents to housing cooperatives, tenant run housing associations or purchase agreements.

Who we are

The Land Is Ours was set up in 1995 by writer George Monbiot with the aim to echo in the UK land rights campaigns across the developing world, notably Brazil’s landless movement (MST). Also to take up the cause through non-violent direct action of forgotten Diggers, Chartists and Land Leaguers on our own islands. You can find us online at www.tlio.org.uk and join the Diggers list, set up in Easter 1999 when we occupied St George’s Hill,  Surrey for two weeks on the Diggers’ 350th anniversary, by sending a blank email to diggers350-subscribe@gn.apc.org

Land is a free gift to mankind so should never be considered private property like other things. ‘True Leveller’ Gerrard Winstanley said ‘The Earth is a Common Treasury for All, Without Respect of Persons’. Winstanley died a Quaker and the Bible puts it thus: The land is not to be sold permanently, for the Earth is mine, sayeth The Lord God, and you are but my tenants. Leviticus 25:25.

References

[1] Daily Express: Theresa May social care policy: What is the ‘dementia tax’ and what has changed? By Alice Foster Mon 22May17
[2] Metro: Labour tax plan ‘could stop parents passing on homes to kids’, by Kate Buck, Mon 01Jul19
[3] Scottish Daily Record: Lloyds Bank sets out new plans to buy 50,000 homes to become UK’s biggest landlord by 2030, by Linda Howard, Wed 01Sep21

Wiltshire Council leader’s anger at MoD as 1,350 military homes lie empty for years

Wiltshire Council leader’s anger at MoD as 1,350 military homes lie empty for years

The leader of Wiltshire Council has described 1,350 empty military homes in the county as a “scandal” as more than 2,000 families wait for social housing.

The empty homes, many of which have multiple bedrooms and large gardens, are dotted around civilian communities.

The Ministry of Defence rents them from private company Amey, but council tax records show they have been empty for several years.

“I honestly think it’s a scandal,” leader of Wiltshire Council Richard Clewer told ITV News West Country.

“Taxpayers are spending money to keep properties empty, and I’m having to see green fields built on when we could be housing people in these empty homes.”

There is huge pressure on Wiltshire’s social housing stock.

Houses in Chippenham, Trowbridge and Salisbury attract more than 100 bids each and there are currently 2,400 families are waiting for one of the council’s 5,000 properties.

Scottish and Welsh Farmland Being Corporatised in Fake Environmental ‘Carbon Offset’ Scam

WALES: Greater transparency and information is needed about the purchase of viable farm land in Wales by corporations using carbon offset schemes, the Welsh affairs committee has warned today.

Welsh farmers priced out as firms buy up land to ‘greenwash’, warn MPs

While MPs recognise the importance of woodland to tackle the climate emergency, concerns were raised that companies could be attempting to “game the system” by investing in farming land to offset emissions which is then lost to Welsh agriculture. Farmers could find themselves “priced out” of good quality farming land as many can simply not compete with the prices paid by wealthy companies for the land.

The committee invites the Welsh government to consider whether it has appropriate safeguards in place to ensure companies investing in carbon woodland offsets have credible emission reductions schemes, calls on the Welsh and UK governments to improve the transparency and regulation of carbon offset schemes which in effect create a change of land use, and suggests that greater transparency may be achieved by the creation of a register of carbon offset schemes so that the extent of this problem can be monitored.

The potential lack of farm land is just one of the issues facing family farms in Wales. Welsh farmers feel the “economics are stacked against the family farm” referring to the single farm payment, working hours and rent. The committee was concerned to hear that around a fifth of Welsh farms had a farm business income of less than zero with an average income of £26,000 per farm.

The language and cultural traditions maintained by family farms are also at risk. The agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors in Wales represents 43 per cent of Welsh speaking workers, and with farming in Wales dominated by over 60s, when they retire there are concerns that the language could be further eroded. Many younger generations are leaving due to the lack of work, and the committee therefore recommends that new entrants are supported into farming, while the UK and Welsh governments should work together to create a scheme to support farmers plan for their retirement.

The committee collected evidence on free trade agreements (FTAs) and heard concerns that Welsh producers could be undermined if the UK market is flooded with cheaper imports. The committee stressed that it is important that safeguards continue to be included in FTAs with countries with a large agri-food export sector. The committee recommends that the UK government publish cumulative impact modelling to show the impact of FTAs and again recommends that a Welsh specific impact assessment is carried out to mitigate any adverse impacts an FTA could have on the Welsh farming sector.

Committee chair Stephen Crabb MP, said following today’s report: “Farming is an incredibly important and vital sector for communities across Wales. An enormous 90 per cent of Welsh land is used for farming, and comparably with England, the farming sector employs more people and contributes more to the Welsh economy.

“Yet, Welsh farming is facing a challenging time in a number of different areas. We heard that a significant amount of farming land is being lost to carbon offset projects which is being sold at such a high price to wealthy companies that farmers, many of whom are already struggling financially, cannot compete with. While offsets could be a useful tool in meeting net zero, there must be adequate safeguards in place to avoid greenwashing by companies relying on offsets to avoid difficult decisions to tackle emissions at source.

“Further, with older generations dominating the farming community, we must make sure they have a suitable route into retirement so farming, and the rich legacy of traditions that come with it, continue in younger generations.”

SCOTLAND: Absentee owners buying up Scottish estates in secret sales – Nearly half of sales of Highland estates went to absentee owners last year – in some cases for environmental offsetting

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/apr/12/majority-of-sales-of-highland-estates-conducted-in-secret-scotland

Severin Carrell Scotland editor @SeverinCarrell Tue 12 Apr 2022

A majority of Highland estates that changed hands last year were sold in secret, and nearly half went to absentee owners rushing to buy rural land for environmental reasons, a report has revealed.

The Scottish Land Commission, an official body set up to reform land ownership, has warned these trends are threatening attempts to diversify land ownership, improve the rural economy and increase transparency and accountability.

An investigation it commissioned implies the Scottish land market is at risk of overheating, with the demand from corporations, charities and the privately wealthy for prime Highland estates greatly outstripping supply.

A study by Scotland’s Rural College and two major estate agencies – Savills and Strutt & Parker – has for the first time analysed land sales in Scotland over the past two years involving Highland sporting estates, commercial forests and farms.

It found that prices for sporting estates jumped by 88% in 2021 compared with 2020, even though the number of properties sold was similar to the five-year average. Two sold for more than £20m. And despite the global pandemic, the amount spent last year rose by 119% compared with 2020.

Nearly two-thirds of last year’s sales were carried out privately, without the land going on the open market, with a third of the total going to overseas buyers. Those “off market” sales meant land was changing hands secretly without allowing local people to put in bids, the commission warned.

Hamish Trench, the commission’s chief executive, said these trends could make it “significantly harder” for local communities, cooperatives and social enterprises to buy land, stifling efforts to promote rural economic diversity.

That greatly increased the case for new public interest tests to be introduced on large land sales, and for rules to prevent private land sales excluding local communities, he added.

Corporate tree-planting drive in Scotland ‘risks widening rural inequality’

“The way the land market functions is important to Scotland’s ambitions such as net zero, nature restoration, repopulation and community empowerment,” Trench said. “Being able to participate in the market shapes not just who owns Scotland’s land, but who is able to make decisions and who benefits from land and its economic, social and environmental value.”

Businesses and investors are now paying premium prices for rural estates, commercial forests and farms to offset carbon emissions and sell green investments as they attempt to meet the challenges set by governments and scientists to address climate heating.

At the same time, the very wealthy are still buying Highland estates for lifestyle reasons but are now investing much more in woodland, rewilding and peatland restoration rather than focusing on deer stalking, salmon and grouse as before.

A recent study by Community Land Scotland, which campaigns for land reform, found that many forestry projects are subsidised by government grants to promote reforestation and regeneration, while also allowing owners to sell carbon credits based on the CO2 the forests absorb.

That has meant farm prices in Scotland jumped by 31% last year, compared with 6% at UK level, the land commission report said. The value of poor-quality grazing land and hill farms ideal for forestry rose by 60% last year.

The commission’s findings will intensify pressure on the Scottish government to introduce a public interest test and potentially limit the amount of land one individual or entity can own.

As part of the Scottish National party’s cooperation deal with the Scottish Greens it plans to introduce a new land reform bill in late 2023, but it remains unclear what ministers intend to do.

 Lost Forest: why is BrewDog’s green scheme causing controversy?

The government has also promised to double the £10m-a-year Scottish Land Fund, which distributes grants for community buyouts, to £20m by 2026. That fund was already heavily oversubscribed before last year’s sudden surge in land prices, and had to turn applicants away.

In 2019, the commission found that about 1,125 owners, including public bodies and charities, owned 70% of Scotland’s rural land, totalling 4.1m hectares (10m acres). That includes 87 owners who hold 1.7m hectares, including some that own vast landholdings of over 80,000 hectares spreading over multiple properties.

The Scottish government said it recognised the case for land reform. The commission’s report supported “the approach we are taking to ensure that the investment in our natural capital is conducted in a responsible manner, in keeping with our land reform objectives and the need to ensure a just transition to net zero.”

Calum MacLeod, the policy director of Community Land Scotland, said the government’s timetable lacked urgency. It could take several years for legislation to come into force.

“Scotland urgently needs land reform legislation regulating ‘off-market’ estate sales, applying public interest tests on significant land transfers and current landholdings, and making it easier to use existing community rights to buy land to be enacted well before the end of 2023,” he said.