Monday, 10 November 2008

How Kind.

JuliaM at Ambush Predator is wondering whether Gordon is getting ready for a General Election. I do hope so, mainly because I feel that prolonged rule by a Prime Minister who has never put himself before the people for a mandate and who appears to have avoided doing so precisely because he was told they would reject him is in principle wrong.

Anyway, she mentions a range of measures that re apparently being considered, including the abolition of Stamp Duty. Oh dear; I can hear the plaintive cries of those around me as I read that. You see, I have a slight bee in my bonnet about Gordon Brown and Stamp Duty, ever since 2004 when I moved into my present house. It was a little later in the process of conveyancing than would have been prudent that I actually worked out the Stamp Duty bill on the new house. Suffice to say that the 4% rate applied. That's 4% of the value of my house, in cash, on the nail. Ouch.

Fortunately, we had the cash; we had looked at the house and decided that three things needed doing; the (original wooden) windows needed replacing with something modern, the kitchen needed replacing, and the garden needed a lot of help. We reckoned we had the cash to do one project per year; the most urgent being the windows as the existing ones were very draughty and the house was therefore quite cold.

However, once I moved in I faced a simple choice. Pay the Stamp Duty bill, or replace all the windows and doors with new double-glazed units. Guess which one won.

So, that was a nice policy, Gordon. You got the cash, I didn't get my windows, and the local business didn't get the custom. Very good for the environment and for local businesses. Then I visit these wonderful people and read their very good book and I weep that the money Gordon held back from the firm that (eventually) did the work for me was so shamefully wasted.

It doesn't help that I worked out that, had I spent the money on the windows, and had the contractors paid their staff (who would pay tax) and their suppliers (who have staff), and had all those staff spent their after tax income, then the income tax bills and the VAT income would eventually have been close to 75% of the Stamp Duty bill anyway. Except, of course, that lots of "hard-working families" would have benefited along the way.

Perhaps, sometimes, people spending their own money in their own community might spend it better than Whitehall. Dave; there's a soundbite for you. Get on it.

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