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With property a key issue for voters ahead of this week’s UK general election, the Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has developed a series of policy blueprints for new ministers. These Property in Politics recommendations provide workable solutions for the next government to implement as priorities and include establishing an independent Housing Observatory and for the next government to issue Property Tax Forward Guidance within its first 100 days A Housing Observatory would draw on expertise from across government, the private sector and academia, taking politics out of the housing debate and ultimately delivering the housing supply the UK needs. RICS says that the observatory would be strictly independent at arm’s length from government and fulfil several functions including as a data hub on housing, accessible to policymakers, academics and the general public. It would review and interpret this data and produce briefing papers on what works, both nationally and internationally and analyse policy statements, identifying long term consequences and macro trends modelled on the tax and spending policy analysis carried out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. It would also create or facilitate new streams of research. Property Tax Forward Guidance would promote certainty and clarity for the property sector, according to RICS and it added that the new government should publish Forward Guidance of its plans for property taxes within its first 100 days. It would seek a commitment to a comprehensive review of Council Tax, including moves towards a wholesale revaluation of properties and the introduction of higher rate bands and reduce the VAT on improvements to rental properties to 5% to stimulate investment in the private rented sector. It says that the parties should undertake a detailed assessment of the probable impact of a mansion tax proposed by Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The proposals were developed through in-depth consultations with RICS professionals, and to date over 1,000 people have been engaged on the campaign. ‘To take these ideas forward, we convened a series of working groups in early 2015, to develop clear plans for action on a number of the recommendations; principal among these were the establishment of a Housing Observatory, the issuing of Property Tax Forward Guidance within the first 100 days of the next government, and the delivery of a Resource Revolution in planning departments,’ said a spokesman. ‘Across each of these areas, we engaged with partners and stakeholders from the professions, from academia, and from government. Each panel moved beyond the headline recommendations to give concrete proposals on how each can be realised and their findings have been compiled in a series of policy blueprints for new Ministers,’ the spokesman added. Continue reading →
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