Tuesday, 22 December 2009

A Tale of Two Cities

Just got round to reading this week's Sunday Times piece about Bristol. It's not an entirely unrecognisable picture of the city, but it's pretty obvious that the reporter didn't set foot in Bristol East. (Also, why is it in the Women's section of the paper? This is one of my pet hates, labelling things as "women's" just because they're lifestyle pieces.)

I did a regional political show last week, and had trouble persuading the Tory MP on the panel that virtually no-one in my constituency would benefit from his party's inheritance tax plans, i.e. that there were very few houses worth more than £325,000 and certainly none approaching the £2million mark, which is the Tories' upper limit, below which a household will not be subject to IHT. He insisted I'd find there were 'quite a few who would' (which still begs the question, why is this a flagship policy for the Tories, their top priority for tax cuts, when on any reckoning it's only a few who would benefit?)

I can think of a handful of big houses, for example out Stapleton way, which might be above the £500,000 mark. But with the average house price in Bristol as a whole only at £163,000 and even detached houses at an average of £305,000, and that obviously includes all those huge houses in Clifton pushing the average up, I can't see that the Tories' tax plans are going to do anything at all for the people I represent. If anyone can come up with more specific stats for east Bristol, I'd be keen to see them.


Steven_L said...

'I can't see that the Tories' tax plans are going to do anything at all for the people I represent.' (Kerry)

Another blogger I read has been trying to tell me for a long time that you lot and the tories are just the red and blue wings of the homeowners party.

I think that little freudian slip might have just confirmed it.

bristolwestpaul said...

Have read the article now, it is an accurate reflection of part of Bristol but certainly not the whole city. Says a lot about the world journalists operate in.

Kerry said...

Steven, I don't see why you say that. IT cuts benefit those who own big houses; they wouldn't benefit my constituents, who either own smaller houses or don't own their homes.

Devil's Kitchen said...


I am sure that you are aware of this, but Inheritance Tax is levied on the entire estate of the deceased—not just the house, but furniture, fittings, savings, cars, clothes, books, tvs, hi-fis, cash under the bed, etc. etc.

It's amazing how quickly this mounts up—especially as many of your constituents might, I imagine, hand down furniture from generation to generation (thus leading to a prevalence of reasonably valuable antiques).

Just think of all of the things that you've accumulated, Kerry, and start pricing it all up...

You should also bear in mind that the inheritors must pay the inheritance Tax before they are actually allowed to gain access to the estate.

So, if my father's estate is worth £400,000, I must pay the 40% before I can even sell the house to pay the bills. That means that I must borrow the money from a bank, pay interest, etc.

It really is a deeply wrong tax because it is designed to screw the beneficiaries before they see any benefit.



Kerry said...

Yes, I know entire estate is included but for most people their home forms the largest chunk of that. And I don't think there are many people passing down valuable furniture and antiques through the generations in Bristol East!

Any money coming to you through your father's estate is additional money though, is it not? It's not money you've earned... so you're still doing rather nicely if he's got a £400,000 estate to leave you. And as for those people with a <£2million inheritance who will be helped by the Tory plans - sorry, there is absolutely no way that should be a priority.

James Dey said...

There's quite a few houses in Clifton worth more than £325,000. There's even a semi which sold for £1.625m. Most houses are below £325,000, however. You can find individual house sales on www.houseprices.co.uk. I believe other sites e.g. hometrack may bundle it up by postcode.