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The siren call of Lisbon – A tale of rejection, disappointment and betrayal

When, during his budget speech, George Osborne announced Capital Gains Tax (CGT) was going down to 20%, I experienced a mix of emotions: elation, relief, confusion admiration, and I have to say, suspicion. 

Sadly it was suspicion that proved to be bang on the money. If George had really reduced CGT to 20% across the board it could have actually helped him achieve his stated goal of encouraging home ownership because more landlords would sell rather than face the penal tax regime that starts next year.

Instead, he has created yet another two tier system based on hypocrisy and a very dubious set of internal values and alliances.


By reducing the rate of CGT for everything other than residential property he is effectively encouraging people to invest in stocks and shares and other collective investments. 

In other words, he is backing the city against the Private Rented Sector (PRS). 

No doubt he has many allegiances to the people in the city, people he went to school with, people with whom he socialises and people the children of the elite aspire to become.

Imagine the billions of pounds the rise of the PRS has denied the city and the huge commissions and charges this has denied those who make their living managing other people's money for their own benefit. 

Of course it's only natural to demonise the PRS if it is responsible for having to ask daddy to help with the school fees but it's worth it in the end because an Eton education brings with it opportunities money can't buy.

George attacking the PRS is akin to the tobacco lobby denying the harmful effects of cigarettes, or 
the pharmaceutical industry casting doubt on natural remedies and refusing to fund research into them and, when they do, coming to a negative conclusion. 

It is human nature after all to be partisan, to stick up for your own tribe and only see their point of view, even when it is patently against the interests of the majority.

However, as natural as George's support of the city may be, it is also scandalous because he is not in a private business, he is supposed to be representing the interests of the UK, he is supposed to be the financial head of our tribe and he has been elected to represent our interests, not just the interests he was born and bred to support. 

You could of course argue that it was us who elected him so what did we expect? 

The problem is there was no alternative and there still isn't, our political system has failed to keep up with the pace at which society is changing. 

It is still operating at the same speed and going by the same set of rules it did in the Victorian era, before the invention of the telephone, never mind the internet.

The unions served their purpose, they empowered the workers at a time when employers were genuinely exploiting them. 

Over time their usefulness and validity morphed into something subversive and so partisan it threatened the fabric of our society. 

Collective investment is much the same thing, at one time it gave people of moderate means the opportunity to pool their resources and benefit from large scale investment managed by experts in their interests.

Over time this simple concept was abused and turned into a way of taking money from the masses and putting it into the pockets of the few. 

The PRS grew up in part because it was allowed to by legislation, but much more so because it gave individuals back control of their financial destiny and freed them from their dependence on the city and the money managers who make fortunes through collective investment.

So from now we see a two tier system, buy stocks and shares and pay 20% CGT, buy residential property and pay 28%. 

Not only that, pay an extra 3% stamp duty when you buy and if you are an individual higher rate tax payer, lose your higher tax rate relief and risk being taxed on a loss. 

Ironically, this unfair and hypocritical attack has been launched on the core supporter base of the Conservative Party. 

George is treating his supporters with contempt because he doesn't think there is anything they can do about it. 

Sadly, he may be right for the many but for the lucky few there is always an alternative. 

I read an article that Portugal is offering ten years of tax freedom to anyone who relocates there, from what I gather Lisbon is a great city – certainly worth a visit. 

Now there's a thought!

*Simon Shinerock is Chairman of Choices Estate Agents. For more information on Simon, see his blog or his LinkedIn profile.

  • Iain  White

    Let the brain drain begin

  • Simon Shinerock

    Well the drain anyway, we are estate agents after all

  • Simon Shinerock

    Ironically, Georges master plan may have unintended consequences. A lot of tenants may decide to buy which will fuel demand and prices could rise even higher. I also see many southern investors heading north or even overseas to get a better return. Whatever happens the fundamental problem is being ignored, we have too few homes being built and no amount of tinkering will fix the problem of undersupply, only more building will do that


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