Will Jeremy Corbyn Slap A ‘Homes Tax’ On Your House? No He Won't

Anatomy of a Tory election lie. And this is just one.

The figure is pretty scary, and it’s meant to be. Jeremy Corbyn will slap a tax bill of more than a thousand pounds on your home every year. So shouts a new Tory party election leaflet dropping through letterboxes in this 2019 election.

The leaflet links to a website run by the Conservatives, sub-titled ‘share the facts’, that talks of ‘Corbyn’s tax grab’, complete with mock-up that makes the Labour leader look like a communist King Kong looming over suburbia.

The party claims that Labour wants to replace council tax with a new ‘progressive property tax’, with ‘snoopers’ sent in to every home and garden to assess their value.

But the whole thing is a lie. Corbyn has no policy proposal for a homes tax. He is not suggesting replacing council tax with the radical replacement. And he won’t be sending an army of ‘government tax inspectors’ to enforce it.

With the Conservatives already under fire for rebranding their Twitter account with a fake ‘factcheckuk’ title, the tactic underlines just how dirty the war of words has become in the snap election.

The 'Homes Tax' Leaflet
The 'Homes Tax' Leaflet
HuffPost UK

The entire basis for the tax claim is in fact a paper titled ‘Land for the Many’, commissioned by Labour from a group of independent environmentalists and edited by George Monbiot.

The report did call for a shift in the tax burden to the better off, through a “progressive property tax” that would replace council tax.

The aim would be to “reduce the tax paid by the majority of households, and encourage more efficient use of the housing stock” and would be payable by owners, not tenants, the Monbiot report said.

However, its recommendations have not been adopted by Labour and have not made it to the party’s manifesto.

Monbiot told HuffPost UK: “We’ve seen such lies put out by the Conservatives before and of course many times by the newspapers.

“It seems that lying is almost cost-free in politics now. There used to be major political penalties for it, if people perceived political parties were lying it would become a massive scandal and they would lose votes. But now we’ve become so inured to it that we hardly notice it any more.

“There has been a phenomenal number of lies, particularly from the Conservative party in this election and this is just another one and unfortunately people will see it as just another lie.”

Several newspapers earlier this year sought to claim that Corbyn would impose capital gains tax on every home, when the ‘Land for the Many’ report in fact rules out the idea. Boris Johnson said at the time: “This mad ‘tax on all your houses’ would cripple every Brit who owns or wants to own their own home.”

“We examined the case for it and then we specifically and clearly said we don’t propose to do this,” Monbiot said. “Not only did they outright lie about what our report contained, turning it round 180 degrees, they also said this was Labour party policy when it wasn’t.”

The report also recommended that inheritance tax should be abolished, and replaced with a lifetime gifts tax levied on the recipient, a suggestion that has also been cited by the Conservatives as Labour policy.

Andrew Gwynne, shadow local government secretary, said the claims were “utter nonsense”.

“This is more barrel-scraping by the Tory fake news unit. The truth is, Boris Johnson’s Conservatives are on the side of the billionaires, and Labour is on your side.”

But one Labour candidate in London said the misinformation was being picked up on the doorstep. “In London you have a lot of people who are cash poor but asset rich because they lived in houses for 20 years that are now worth a lot,” they said.

“The stuff that’s working is ‘John McDonnell wants your house’. They see a Chancellor who says ’I’ll have that, I’ll have that and I’ll have your house as well’.”

When asked to comment, the Tory party said that the Monbiot report was hosted on the Labour party website, was branded with the Labour logo on the front and imprint on the back and had been promoted by the party’s press office.

Labour says the Tories have misrepresented its policy on other areas too, notably though a claim last week that Corbyn is “plotting a new war on the motorist”. Transport secretary Grant Shapps said “Labour is coming for your car”, pointing to another discussion paper commissioned by the party.

One official Labour report did propose a reduction in car mileage of between 20% and 60% to cut carbon emissions. But the Tory claims are based on a separate report from a group called Transport For Quality of Life, which is merely referenced but not endorsed by the Labour study.

It is the separate report that suggests “increases in fuel duty”, “restraint measures such as road pricing and workplace parking charges” and “reducing motorway speed limits below 70mph”.

The Conservatives this week set up their own ‘Labour Lies Unit’, but its first effort included a rebuttal on poverty in the UK that was itself heavily criticised for failing to compare like-for-like statistics.