Looking ahead to the Autumn Budget and a proposal to reform Capital Gains Tax on the sale of unused second homes

As we approach the Autumn Budget, MPs have the opportunity to advance their ideas on tax and spending to the Chancellor. The spending part is always easy. We all have projects and injustices that we’d like to see solved with more dollops of money. The money does not come out of thin air, the government has no money – only taxpayers’ money that it has taken through the myriad taxes that we all face.

The problem is that despite having the highest level of tax take as a percentage of the economy since the 1950s and for the first time ever, government tax receipts exceeding £600 Bn, we are still spending more than that to the tune of £35 Bn last year. Some spending relates to long overdue capital infrastructure projects, and it is to be welcomed that day to day revenue expenditure is now broadly in balance. Contrast that with the spending black hole we inherited in 2010 when the previous Labour government was borrowing 1 in every 4 pounds to finance expenditure. This was fantasy economics and was simply piling on debt for future generations to pay and had to stop. My Conservative government has added to the national debt for sure, but has reduced the annual overhang from a staggering £150 Bn in 2010 to the £35 Bn of today.

So the basis for MPs representations to the Chancellor must be revenue neutral, or positive to the Treasury. That makes it a tough ask. There is much debate about the fairness of the Business rating system, which penalises traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses allowing a perceived unfairness in favour of virtual businesses like Amazon, Google and other online giants. Should we tax them more and tax traditional businesses less or would this stifle success? A true moral maze question, but we all have our own ability to steer our personal spending back to the High Street and away from the convenience of the internet.

A key tax change I have advanced is a Capital Gains Tax relief for those selling unused holiday home properties, often held by older people who come from out of area. It sounds generous on paper to those who are fortunate enough to hold such assets, but the reality is that too many smaller properties, ideal first-time buyer sized, and often in tourist locations where there are housing pressures, are simply bound up, unused and unlikely to ever be freed up until the death of the owner because of the penal nature of the tax system. Freeing up such units could liberate hundreds of thousands of properties onto the market, and save green spaces earmarked for development in the process.

I’ve had numerous media appearances over the past few weeks on a diverse range of issues covering the rising fear of county lines/drug and gang violence in Kent, lots of Brexit issues as I advance my opposition to the Chequers proposals in favour of a wide-ranging Canada style free trade agreement, women and Burqas following Boris Johnson’s high octane article in August on the issue. I also managed to get coverage for a local resident of Broadstairs who has faced 9 years of sheer hell from both Southern Water and her insurance company – Ageas following a water leak of 9 years ago.

I do hope that jobseekers will take the opportunity to visit my Thanet Jobs fair, organised in conjunction with the DWP locally at the “Hall by the Sea”, Dreamland on Friday 5th October from 10 am to 4pm, and that listed property owners take advantage of the Listed Property Owners forum at the Guildhall, Sandwich on Saturday 13th October. With 1,500 listed properties across South Thanet this is an opportunity to get advice from specialists. Email me for any further details that you need at craig.mackinlay.mp@parliament.uk.