On Sunday 11th November 2018 we held our national gathering at Friends of the Earth’s offices in London.
We had a beautiful group network members gathered, including a v. dedicated contingent who made the pilgrimage (by minibus) all the way down from the Reclaim the Power gathering in Sheffield, and it was the first LJN gathering for eight wonderful people – welcome!
Our 30 second intros which kicked off the meeting were a challenge, but we got some major updates– David is a cat person, Maddy likes good books and bad jokes, Tom feels it’s important to wave the flag for the flageolet bean. Good.
But it was four-year old Luca who really hit the nail on the head and got us off to the best start with his call to action. We need to ‘take back the land!’ he said, ‘and there’s a lot to do, so we better get on with it.’
The next national gathering will take place on the 11th November at Friends of the Earth’s Offices in London from 12-5pm with option pub visit afterwards for the freelancers among us…
The meeting will be a chance for new and old members to meet, discuss, and make plans for the coming months of land justice action! If you’d like to get involved in LJN work over the next few months, we’d love to see you there.
It’d be massively helpful if you could quickly RSVP using the form below so we can send you the agenda ahead of time. And also so we can find enough comfy chairs for you all 😉 !
Come to Land Justice Network’s next national gathering to find out what the we’ve all been up to and plot fresh action together!
It will take place on Saturday 18th August at Heeley City Farm, Richards Road, Sheffield, S2 3DT.
We’ll meet up 12 noon for a shared pot luck (bring a dish if you can) and we’ll start the meeting around 12.30, finishing 5pm with optional social time at a nearby pub afterwards. The venue is fully accessible for wheelchairs.
The gathering will include a visit to REACH Homes a project based at the farm which has designed genuinely affordable homes for £35k.
On Sunday 19th all are welcome to join us for a walk in the Peak District – we are hoping to meet some of those affected by the recent fires on Saddleworth Moor, connected to the mismanagement of moors for grouse shooting.
We are also inviting along Hebden Bridge residents who were badly affected by the flooding a few years back… also connecting to mismanagement of land for grouse.
If you are interested in coming for both days and need to sort somewhere to stay overnight on Saturday night, please drop us an email at email@example.com as we may be able to help.
Please also get in touch if you are able to offer a lift and/or particularly need support with travel costs or a creche for your child on the Saturday.
My name is Kate and I am very excited to be on board as the new LJN network co-ordinator – thank you so much for collectively offering me this position. I’m really looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible over the next few months whether at the Sheffield meeting on the 18th August or the next gathering (tbd).
My background is in anthropology, activism and environmental youth work, and I am also a singer and musician. I have been involved in land and privatisation related struggles for the last six years as part of Occupy Parliament Square, Reclaim the Power, the Divestment and anti TTIP movements, with my local labour party and as a researcher with The Gaia Foundation.
Over the last three years, I have been managing a youth charity and been really inspired by young people’s engagement with new forms of community, and ways of using land. It has confirmed to me how captivating land justice can be, and how fantastic it is that this movement is emerging. I currently live in a farmhouse in south Norfolk with a community other artists and activists, if anyone ever finds themselves out east needing a place to stay…
As I am new to the Land Justice Network, I know I have lots of learning to do and a world to get acquainted with. Over the next two months I would like to offer my facilitation and support to everyone in whatever ways are needed so if there is anything I can assist with, please don’t hesitate to send me an email.
I’m so inspired by what the LJN has achieved so far, by the emerging outreach work, and by the ways you are collectively bringing land into public discourse. I’m honoured to be supporting of all this work over the next few months and I’m looking forward to what’s to come. Thank you for inviting me in!
Professor Antonia Layard’s blog post explores three stories of land secrecy in England: the land registry, beneficial ownership of land, and commercial confidentiality in affordable housing. An informative read reflecting how secrecy about land ownership and deals remain part of English land developments.
This report documents the workshop on taxation which took place on September 17th 2017, hosted by the Land Justice Network policy and legislation group.
Over 30 people, including grass roots campaigners, academics and professionals, gathered at UCL to discuss the issues surrounding taxation and land reform. The workshop began by presenting the Land Justice Network and its aims: more equitable distribution of land, long-term stewardship, not short-term profit, increases in land value should be given to society, pro-active community planning and transparency. The aims of the workshop were then explained: given that landowners benefit greatly from owning land, how could we change the taxation system to ensure public benefit.
Duncan Bowie focused on housing as it is now the greatest source of wealth. He outlined the purposes of a taxation system before moving on to outline a number of taxation options to deal with issues such as ineffective use of land and capacity and capital gains from residential development. Some options include: changes to residential council tax banding, reforms to inheritance tax and reforms on levies to new developments. The key point is that we must examine tax options according to what our aims are and in this case the main aim is to ensure that housing policy are met.
Heather Wetzel from the Labour Land Group outlined the problems that arise from the fact that land is not the cornerstone of our taxation system. Though there are other taxes needed to meet other public objectives, a tax on land should be central to government policy. This is called the Land Value Tax. Rather than a series of taxes (as presented by Duncan) there would be one tax which would achieve many of our land reform objectives. This tax would not be based on production and would not hit the homeowner. She stressed, however, that in addition it is important to keep land in public hands.
David Mountain, a research student from UCL, presented his research findings on capturing land value in opportunity areas of London.
Q and A and group discussion
There was a wide-ranging discussion which showed the links between taxation and other land issues. A selection of points:
The planning system is related to land values. If a piece of land has been given planning permission for residential properties and many of the requirements that would benefit the public are waived (eg percentage of homes for social rent, number of stories) then the value of the land increases.
Relationship between land and finance. The ease of lending can increase the value of land.
Source of problem is making housing a market.
Need to take into consideration both urban and rural areas and also outside London. The situation is very different outside London.
Much concern about developers in general and how they are getting away with making huge profits at our expense.
There were also a number of concerns that focused on the taxation issues.
For the Land Value Tax, how do we know how to value the land?
For all tax options, what about your average homeowner who lives in their home but who is now worth more because of the rise in prices? Would they be penalised?
It is difficult to focus one tax changes or one tax change because there may be other consequences to consider.
Question of whether it is best to have several different task changes or one major one like the Land Value Tax.
Issue of whether it is best to approach the problems we gave identified through tax changes and capturing the land value or whether we should be ‘capturing the land’, in other words putting land into public ownership/trust/the commons.
General: Summing up?
Everyone is very concerned and passionate about issues around land. These issues affect us as a society but also as individuals.
People learnt something about land issues and the taxation options though some felt that there was a lot more to learn about how the different options might work in practice. There were people with different degrees of expertise and experience as well as different kinds of expertise and experience.
Most thought that we had been a little premature in focusing on tax options without thinking about what our aims are. Though the Land Justice Network has its Common Ground Statement it is not enough when trying to identify what tax system to introduce or even whether the problems can be address through the tax system. The issue of effective use of land, or how do we decide what the public and communities want from land and land reform needs to be included.
Need to find a way of making sure that the movement is led by people at the grass roots in campaigns and communities whilst at the same time gaining the support of all the excellent work done by researchers (who will also be in campaigns and communities in many instances!).
A Land Reform Bill may be a bit ambitious at this stage without looking more closely at what the aims are. Then there will need to be discussions about how broad or narrow the bill would be.
There was also concern expressed about how to mobilise people to support land reform.
The policy working group will consider how to facilitate a discussion on elaborating on the Common Ground statement. All people affiliated to the Land Justice Network can participate in this. You can affiliate by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Since the workshop, Just Space has volunteered to work on a summary document of various tax options and how they deal with the aim of capturing land value. There will be some workshop at the November 11th meeting in Leicester and the next London workshop will be on ownership. We will aim to combine both a discussion of aims as well as different strategies for achieving those aims.
Remember that there are other working groups on issues to do with outreach and education and actions.
What facts and knowledge are important to understand when starting to think about land in the UK? This session is designed for people who are relative new comers to exploring land as a common issue and will be repeated twice as we believe many of you will find this a really useful overview and introduction to the topic.
69% of land in the UK is owned by 0.6% of the population.
UK housing is concentrated on 5% of the country’s land mass.
Only 64% of people have a small stake in the 5% of land on which our housing is built.
Home and land ownership is in decline.
1/3 of British land is still owned by aristocrats.
The value of ‘dwellings’ (homes and the land underneath them) has increased by four times (or 400%) between 1995 and 2015, from £1.2 trillion to £5.5 trillion.
The property wealth of the top 10% of households is nearly 5 times greater than the wealth of the bottom half of all households combined.
Landlords own almost 40% of all former council houses with the government’s ‘right-to-buy’ scheme.
The annual amount of overseas investment in the UK housing market has rise from around £6bn per year a decade ago to £32bn by 2014.
74% of house price increases between 1950 and 2012 in the UK can be explained by rising land prices with the remainder attributable to increases in construction costs.
Land often increases in value due to public investment in infrastructure, such as roads, public transport, housing, etc. It has been estimated that the extension of the Jubilee Line of the London Underground which opened in 1999 increased local residential land values within 1000 yards of each of the stations by £13 billion (Riley, 2001). As a result, such publically funded infrastructure projects almost always involve a substantial transfer of wealth from a large number of taxpayers to a small number of land owners – a classic case of economic rent.