Housing tax will change – because the middle classes will demand it

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I can't avoid the charge of being middle class. I am. And I understand, to some degree, the middle class desires in life. The most pressing of these, as far as I can see, is that the middle classes want their children to enjoy what they enjoy: indeed, it is their aspiration that they be middle class too. It is in many ways a daft aspiration, depriving children of choice and forcing them into treadmill education, but that's a debate for another place and another occasion. The fact is, that's what they seem to want.

So Will Hutton was on target when he wrote in the Observer this weekend that:

At a gathering of my wife's family last weekend I was sharply reminded of the generation gap when it comes to property. The over-35s are winners with their cushion of equity, which grows vast the nearer they are to pensionable age; the under-35s have debts that make them feel fearful at becoming losers in the property jungle.

His solution?:

The simple answer is to build more houses, especially social housing, but that means eroding the green belts and relaxing planning laws - unpopular ideas. There are tougher measures, too. If housing faced higher taxes, either through inheritance tax, a wealth tax, lifting stamp duty, or limiting tax-free capital gains on housing, then house-price inflation would slow. And if Britain repealed its far too generous concession that non-residents and non-domiciled individuals can buy and hoard houses without paying tax, that would dent overseas demand. All have been ruled out because of a recoil at higher taxes.

But the mood is changing. It seems the middle class has begun to decide that the current mayhem is not in its interests. Privately some Tory policy-makers are toying with finding ways to use the tax system to slow down house-price inflation, pondering whether it really would be political suicide.

The Labour party has been paralysed, writing off taxing as leftist and impractical. But the politics of the house-price inflation machine are beginning to change. It may have made many over-50s very rich, but for the rest the social division, the private heartache, the risks of massive indebtedness and yet dearer houses make no sense. Right-wing policies have created a world we don't like. The pendulum is swinging back.

He's right. The Tories are discussing this. The Labour Party realises the threat is there. And the pendulum is swinging back. I'll be pushing it as hard as I can. I'm a middle class parent, after all.