UK Politics

'Mansion tax' a mistake, says communities secretary

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles
Image caption Mr Pickles said the coalition had ruled out revaluations

Introducing a tax on high-value homes would be a mistake, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has said.

Mr Pickles told the Daily Telegraph that middle-class families were already paying enough tax, and the so-called mansion tax was "a big mistake".

He also said the top tax rate of 50p was just a "temporary" measure.

His views differ from coalition partners, the Lib Dems, whose leader Nick Clegg supports the so-called mansion tax and the 50p tax rate.

Mr Pickles said: "We as a government have got to understand that middle-class families put a lot into this country and don't take a lot out.

"It would be a very big mistake to start imposing taxation on the back of changes in property values, particularly with big regional variations."

Earlier this week, Mr Clegg said the coalition's focus in tough financial times was on helping those on low and middle incomes - not "a small minority at the very top".

The mansion tax proposal was originally put forward by Business Secretary Vince Cable when the Lib Dems were in opposition.

But Mr Pickles said the coalition had ruled out revaluations across the country.

"It's a red line for the coalition. The coalition has said unambiguously that we won't be revaluing in the lifetime of this Parliament," he told the Telegraph.

'Lower taxation'

"People will suddenly find themselves in a mansion and they hadn't realised it was a mansion. If it is only going to be mansions, the kind of thing you and I would regard as a mansion, it ain't going to raise very much."

On the top rate of tax, levied on incomes over £150,000, he said it was only ever temporary to deal with the UK deficit.

It was announced by the Labour government in 2009 and came into force in April 2010.

Mr Pickles said: "I'm a Conservative, I like the idea of lowering taxation. I believe you get more tax revenue by lowering taxation because people work harder.

"I like people to keep more in their pockets for their family."

The chancellor is to assess how much money the 50p tax rate is generating.

The review, to be conducted by the Inland Revenue, is expected to conclude by the end of the financial year.

Mr Clegg has said he supported the chancellor's decision to review the tax, but last week said: "When living costs are high, when people are really feeling the strain, of course it is right to prioritise help, where you can give help, to the millions of people who need that help the most and not prioritise help to a very, very small minority of people who don't need as much help - in other words, the people at the very top."

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