Friday, 5 December 2014

Why Should We Subsidise London From Our Taxes?

The news today has been covering the latest rise in rail fares.  Given all of the other news coverage, in recent weeks, over the devolution of finance, which will lead to the break-up of Britain, there has been little coverage of the fact that taxpayers continue to make a huge subsidy to rail fares, of around 50%.  Yet, the main beneficiary of these lower rail fares is capital based in London.  Hard pressed workers in the North, are paying taxes to benefit capital in the South that is raking it in hand over fist. This is the same capital that objects to the imposition of the mansion tax, because it would mean the rich, in London, paying a few bob more, and who, given half a chance, would declare financial UDI, to keep all of the money made in London.

Because London acts like a huge vacuum cleaner that sucks up most of the available capital and resources, in Britain, it has continued to grow, whilst the rest of Britain has languished under the effects of the Liberal-Tories' insane austerian economic policies.  That is, of course, a Liberal-Tory government that exists, in large part, because of the electoral support it obtains from the relatively affluent sections of society living in and around London, and which is now at extreme odds with the political situation, not just in Scotland, but in the North of Britain, and much of the Midlands.  The consequence has been the ludicrous run up of property prices in London, which has far exceeded the rise in wages, even in London, fuelled by a massive credit bubble, originally initiated by Thatcher back in the 1980's, and which every successive government has been forced to reflate, each time it threatened to burst, because otherwise it would mean the destruction of Britain's banks, again mostly based in London, whose balance sheets are a fiction based upon this astronomical debt, and outrageously inflated property valuations.

Private debt in Britain is now higher as a percentage of GDP than it was in 2007, and is set to increase further as wages continue to fail to keep pace with prices.  One consequence is that potential homebuyers can no longer obtain mortgages, because, even in their forties, their wages are insufficient to cover monthly repayments, even with interest rates at record low levels, and mortgage rates at about a third of their normal level.  That is why house selling prices - as opposed to the ludicrously fictitious asking prices presented in the house price indices - have been falling in much of Britain.

But, in London, it has also meant that many potential buyers have continually moved further and further away from the centre where they work, in order to find houses they can afford to buy.  There are even those WILLIE's who work in London, and live in Edinburgh, flying down or travelling down by train to their jobs in London's financial centre.  But, this is largely made possible because of the subsidy of their rail fares by taxpayers.  If the taxpayer in the rest of Britain did not subsidise these rail fares, and commuters had to pay the full cost, one of two things would occur.

Either, many of these workers would decide the cost was too great and would decide to seek alternative employment outside London, where such expensive travel costs were not incurred, or else firms based in London, would themselves have to locate outside London, where plentiful labour supplies were available.  If the former occurred, capital based in London would find itself short of workers, just as its only possible to obtain low-skilled workers, in London, because the wages of those workers are subsidised by various in-work benefits, and huge levels of Housing Benefit.  In that case, London based capital would have to either raise wages substantially, and thereby reduce its profits, or else it would be forced to move its operations outside London, to where there are plentiful supplies of labour, that does not face the high cost of travel and living that exists in London.

Either way, workers outside London are acting like turkeys waiting for Christmas by continuing to subsidise the private rail companies' fares from their taxes, and thereby also subsidising the profits of London based capital, that is not covering the full cost of the labour it employs, because of that labour being subsidised by taxpayers from elsewhere in the country.  Workers elsewhere in the country by providing that tax subsidy to the private rail companies profits, and to the profits of London based capital, are thereby encouraging the further concentration of capital and labour in London, and a restriction of their own employment and economic prospects.


George Carty said...

It isn't just the bankers that got us into this mess in the first place, but the greater part of the population in South East England!

They voted for politicians who promised big house price rises which homeowners could cash in by MEWing. The biggest winners of all were South-Eastern council house tenants who were able to use Right to Buy to buy their house at a price discounted even from its original lowish price, and then get even more money by remortgaging when the house price increased.

This had a political effect in that it replaced the class-based politics of the post-war era with a largely geography- and age-based politics, with younger and Northern people voting Labour while older and Southern people vote Conservative.

And the MEWing factor also means that the fact that selling prices are lower than asking prices is less relevant than you think. As long as the financial industry thinks the asking price is plausible, they will be willing to remortgage up to that amount, irrespective of what the owner would get if he/she actually tried to sell the property.

unaha-closp said...

When the banks leave London they will not move to other parts of the United Kingdom. They will leave the country and the UK will be left holding the debt.

The UK sustains the banking industry by socialising the industry's losses. Bankers in London literally cannot lose. If they make profits they get to keep them (less taxation) and if they lose the UK purchases their debts at face value. Alongside that you have all the other little subsidies that favour the industry, like this one.

You have to keep paying the subsidy, otherwise you'll never get back all the subsidies you paid in the past.