Land rights confer wealth, but not uniformly. Location matters – building Canary Wharf in a desert without the associated infrastructure would not have made anyone richer. The same effort and investment on a prime site yields a far better return than on a marginal one. The Government is planning to build 300,000 affordable homes, but the price of such a home in London or the North will vary greatly – the difference is not in the cost of the bricks and mortar but in the land value on which the homes are built. Who benefits?
The author argues that the current tax regime fails to take account of the growing proportion of wealth conferred on landowners, large and small, by the joint efforts and enterprise of industry and the public sector as population and the economy grow.
To enable Britain to prosper in the modern world, Tony Vickers advocates a complete shift in the burden of taxation, off enterprise and onto resource usage – Land Value Taxation. This is to ensure that those who work and save are not penalised, and those who now enjoy the gifts of Nature and the benefits conferred by society pay proportionately for the privilege, and not future generations or the poor. This tax shift would make industry more competitive globally and ensure a fairer distribution of wealth to all participants in the economy. There are also environmental benefits.
Tony Vickers is a lifelong advocate for the use of geographic information (GI) in government. As a construction engineer; a military surveyor; a local councillor; and as a lecturer and researcher in green taxes, he has worked to bring about the more effective use of GI. He has a special interest in the policy aspects of GI and the ways in which land markets and sustainable urban development can be made to work better in society through its use.
Keywords: Land value, Geographic information, Fair distribution of wealth