Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Two problems, one solution

NB I am not DK, I'm Mark Wallace, Campaign Director of the TaxPayers' Alliance.

Politics is replete with problems. Not just this year, but every year there are massive, costly failings in government that hurt ordinary people by depriving them of their freedom, their money or even their lives.

It's always nice, then, when solutions are put forward that are sufficiently elegant and simple to solve several problems at once.

Problem One: the current crisis over MPs' second home expenses. As well as insisting they live by the same tax laws as anyone else, and stopping the claiming of absurd luxuries like massage chairs, home cinemas and duck houses, it is necessary to put a stop to the opportunity for making a capital gain with taxpayers' money. Anyone working away from home in other industries gets accommodation provided to them - but no-one other than MPs get to keep the flat for themselves after the job. That needs to stop. So, how best to provide accommodation for MPs but avoid excessive cost to taxpayers or personal profit for MPs?

Problem Two: The Olympic Village has been effectively nationalised, and has an uncertain future. Whilst many homes are committed to social housing, taxpayers are currently picking up a bill for a property portfolio that they have been rushed into buying. What to do with it?

Solution: House MPs in the Olympic Village.

The estimated sale value of flats for the 572 non-London MPs would be £110 million. In 2007/08 the Additional Costs Allowance totalled £11.5 million, so it would take under a decade to pay for itself. As the Village has already been effectively nationalised with a taxpayer-funded bailout there would be no need for any extra capital spending, whilst the largest cost of the ACA, rent and mortgages, would be stopped in perpetuity.

The flats would be provided with the basic part-furnishing (standard bed, sofa and so forth) of most flats on the rental market, and if MPs wanted flat screen TVs, love seats or any other paraphernalia for themselves, they could pay for it themselves, too.

The proposal has other benefits, too. For a start, 1,400 other homes in the Olympic Village are set aside for social housing, which means MPs would be living alongside real people from the real world.

Furthermore, the Olympic complex is already being designed with security in mind, so it make s perfect site for housing MPs en masse. The argument that it is dangerous to have MPs all in one place conveniently ignores the fact that they all work in one place during the day, and thus it is a security challenge that is already being met successfully in Westminster.

In the words of Hannibal from the A Team, "I love it when a plan comes together." You can find more information on the proposal here.


berenike said...

There's an MPs "hotel" right next to the Polish parliament building. I've often wondered why this solution hasn't been taken up in the UK.

Nick said...

The estimated sale value of flats for the 572 non-London MPs would be £110 million. In 2007/08 the Additional Costs Allowance totalled £11.5 million, so it would take under a decade to pay for itself.


Will it fuck!

It will take far longer, because you have to pay interest on the money.

Blue Eyes said...

I love the way the TPA is bigging up on this. It was in Private Eye not long ago.

Umbongo said...

An excellent idea but it will never get off the ground. Our rulers would not care to have their week-day residence close to those living in "social housing": that would be rather too close to reality for them.

OTOH and much more likely if the plan gets going, the "social housing" will magically morph into its Parisian equivalent. There the patronage of the Mayor of Paris and various Ministers extends to doling out the choice of French state property to the favoured few who - surprise surprise - belong to France's political class. It'll be Islington on Thames but without the council house dwellers disturbing our rulers' sleep.

Anonymous said...

"which means MPs would be living alongside real people from the real world."

And that's why it will never happen...

Ian B said...

I don't object to MPs getting expenses. Really. Neither do I object to them having a second home at my expense. Really. Nobody should be forced to live in barracks. The hysteria about this is ridiculous and a distraction from the real, deep rot in our political structure and entire society (no, not chavs stabbing each other, I'm talking about the rivers of our cash flowing around the "third sector" in particular).

But if this second homes business is really such a big old thing, then why not just let them buy a flat on the taxpayer, then when they lose their seat it reverts to property of the state, and has to be sold? Since we lie in a society where spiralling property prices are enforced by government fiat, every time an MP loses their seat, the flat gets sold and makes a net profit. The swankier the flat they bought, the bigger the profit. It's a win win really.

MPs get a nice home while they're in Westminster, then the state gets a profit on it, and the MP doesn't. What's wrong with that?

Nick said...

The real point is also on taxes.

Why do MPs have a special tax status?

Most will say that should be removed.

That's wrong. Everyone should get the priviliges.


Anonymous said...

I do like the idea of putting them in a secure compound. All ready for dealing with, violently, for what they have done/are doing to us. All in one place ready for plucking......bring it on.


RAB said...

Yes not bad for a start I suppose.

But I favour something involving barbed wire, guard towers, big dogs and machine guns myself.

Anonymous said...

What about the "TOWER" they could be paraded through "TRAITORS GATE" first.
Then beheaded, of course,after a fair trial.

Mark Wadsworth said...

It's not a bad idea, but Ian B's suggestion is probably better, all things considered - if we had that, maybe we wouldn't have an entire economic/tax system which has the sole aim of keeping house prices as high as possible (regardless of the detrimental effect on the real economy and people's disposable incomes).

North Northwester said...

OT I know, but I think you might want to publicize this.


Richard Dale is trying to help the Iranians crash government websites.

I hope you and your readers will take a look and maybe spread the word.

This is one in the server for Amahdidinnerjacket and his girl-hurting pig-fuckers.

Pardon my Spartan.

aljahom said...

These MPs are cloistered and whipped and kept in another world while they're in Westminster.

Do we really want them to see absolutely nothing of the world during the week, sitting together plotting and back-biting, *and* pay for their arses to be wiped by halls super-intendents?

I don't think so.

How about appointing each one as the super-intdendent of a halfway house, with bed & board?


Anonymous said...

TPA should get a democratic mandate before spouting its bullshit

Henry Crun said...

If we are putting this to the vote, then, like MArk Wadsworth, I'm with Ian B.

If a second home is necessary, then by all means, let the MP/Minister buy such a home. This "home" is always the second home and the main residence is the home they own in their own constituency - and a prerequisite to standing as a candidate must be that the MP is resident and owns/rents a property in that constituency.

Once the MP loses his/her seat in parliament, then the property is sold and all capital gain reverts to the Treasury.

However, where a minister is "entitled" to a grace and favour property then they should be disqualified from a second home allowance regardless of whether they take up residence in the govt. property or not.

The Penguin said...

What about a run down wing of Brixton Prison?

The Penguin

Lola said...

Making all the MP's kip down in one compound really wouldn't be very secure would it. I mean, if the proles (me and you for example) got out of hand they'd know where to find them all. Oh, hang on....