Corporate Moles in the Commons?

by Gareth Wilson

22:36 PM, 11th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Corporate Moles in the Commons?

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Corporate Moles in the Commons?

Is it possible that corporate landlords could have ‘moles’ in The House of Commons?

Politicians with a vested interest?

Surely not!

The MP for South Suffolk has set about framing working and middle class buy-to-let landlords as mass property-hoarding despots, in place of institutional investors obtaining and letting properties on a truly industrial scale.

Were his intentions entirely honourable?

Judge for yourself based on this evidence ….

Corporate Moles in the Commons

At 6:30pm on the 9th February 2016, James Cartlidge MP stood before the House of Commons to announce this:

“We have recently heard a prediction from the National Landlords Association that 500,000 extra properties will come on to the market this year because of the buy-to-let tax changes and other changes that we are bringing in. I will put my neck on the line here and say that those measures represent the single most radical change that this Government have introduced so far, in the light of the wider impact that they will have.” – source 

Were 500,000 properties to come on to the market this year as a result of buy-to-let tax changes, the process behind it would be thus: coerced by wholly unaffordable tax bills, buy-to-let landlords would have evicted their tenants, to whom these 500,000 properties would have been homes, and engaged in a mass panic sale. According to the ONS, the average rental property in England and Wales is occupied by 2.3 tenants – source. Such an average therefore entails that this boasted “radical change” –shamelessly spun here to resemble the creation of 500,000 brand new dwellings – would have caused the eviction of 1’150’000 tenants in 2016 alone!

Of further significant note is that those landlords forced to sell-up, will be those housing tenants unable to pay higher rents. This means that the aforementioned evictions will be concentrated among the United Kingdom’s poorest renters. Possessing neither the incomes, deposits nor credit records to buy their own home, renters ejected from private accommodation by Clause 24, will be shifted on to already overburdened social housing waiting lists.

Apparently unconcerned by over 1.1 million tenants losing their homes, Mr Cartlidge then proceeded to declare his outrage towards parties acting to avert such a disaster he went on to say:

“It is extraordinary to note, however, that just as it appears that those changes could have an impact, someone out there is going to go to court to try to stop them. I am of course talking about Cherie Blair. Looking at Blair Inc., we see that when Tony Blair finished as Prime Minister, he went round the world advising dodgy dictatorships, and that Cherie Blair is now going to lead a court action on behalf of, and defending, the rentiers. That is an interesting legacy indeed. It proves that champagne socialism is not yet dead.”

Sadly, stereotyping landlords is not a solution to a shortage of affordable homes. So I believe it fair to suggest that this may not be the motive behind such a statement from this Conservative MP. Yet even so, Cartlidge’s diatribe pulls no punches, equating working and middle-class individual landlords to champagne-gulping, third-world dictators in bed with the Blair family.

As the founder of Share to Buy, James Cartlidge knows full well that the overwhelming majority of buy-to-let landlords, on whose behalf Cherie Blair’s Omnia will be acting, do not accord to such absurd stereotypes: the wealthiest landlords – corporate providers and cash buyers – are going to be excluded entirely from paying more tax as a result of Clause 24 of the Finance Act. The reason for such parliamentary propaganda is that MPs, like James Cartlidge, are desiring for average, unincorporated landlords to be driven out of business, and are recycling unfounded anti-landlord bigotry to achieve this very objective. Moreover, there is no better target for such vilification by politicians, than those very landlords to whom such caricatures do not apply: those landlords able neither to donate six-figure sums to the Conservative party nor be represented by their associates in the chamber. Hence the deliberate bias of the Finance Act towards institutions making such donations and infiltrating the party ranks with their shareholders in the first place.

“What the FCA has done on mortgage rules and on the property market has been for the good. We need prudential borrowing. I am a conservative on financial services and think that we were far too reckless in the build-up to the crunch. If we want fairness, we must recognise that asking first-time buyers to be so heavily regulated, while a buy-to-let applicant for a mortgage faces no regulation and can take out an interest-only mortgage for a huge amount of money, without a key facts illustration that has to be advised, regulated and so on, is deeply unfair.” – source

Were James Cartlidge a different MP, I’d ask in response to such a statement if he had ever heard of the rental coverage ratios, maximum loan to value ratios and higher interest rates that BTL Lenders apply; along with the legionella, gas safety and electrical checks to which landlords must adhere. But I believe that, in light his property-based career, Cartlidge is both aware of their existence and of his above claim being totally false because of them. Neither fact would have mattered to the man, for accuracy was never the motive of such an utterance. Its purpose was purely to rouse his parliamentary colleagues to think with their emotions and attack individual landlords.

While having plenty to say of a perceived unfairness between individual landlords and owner-occupiers, Cartlidge is predictably silent on unfairness in the context of corporate landlords. Whether comparing corporate landlords to individual landlords, or corporate landlords to owner-occupiers, he has nothing to say of the very real unfairness and anti-competitiveness of institutional “rentiers” being uniquely permitted by the Treasury to continue deducting mortgage interest from their tax liabilities. Cartlidge is also silent on the unfairness of Share to Buy, the company he founded and maintains a significant shareholding of, running council-protected monopolies in a number of London Boroughs.

Conservative led Richmond Council has partnered with the Share to Buy portal as part of its “First Steps” campaign to advertise properties to own and rent among members of the Council’s constituency. As part of this campaign, Share to Buy describes itself as “the official website where you can find affordable homes to buy and rent in Richmond and across London” Source. Wandsworth Council (also Conservative led) provides on its website a detailed section dedicated to informing its users of the Share to Buy portal, and the processes associated with its service Source. As part of this joint enterprise, Wandsworth Council compiles and administers a waiting list of clients to whom Share to Buy market their available properties. The Council’s own website explains “When a development is ready to be marketed, the housing provider will request a nomination list from the council. The council compiles the nomination list from people who have signed up to the home ownership register” Source. Such partnerships involving Share to Buy are commonplace throughout London, with numerous councils linking their website users to the portal. These include Brent, Southwark, Lewisham, Kingston, Barnet, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Redbridge and many more.

The issue with James Cartlidge boils down to this: Individual private landlords, currently responsible for housing vast numbers of Britain’s poorest tenants and advertising via other mainstream web portals, are Share to Buy’s primary competition within the rental sector. Meanwhile, the founder of Share to Buy is, in his capacity as MP for South Suffolk, and within multiple Commons’ debates on housing and planning, actively supporting a policy widely expected (including by himself) to force those very same competing landlords to evict their tenants and sell-up. Such an outcome will naturally drive poorer renters out of the private rental sector and on to council housing waiting lists, channelling them through the Share to Buy portal in ever greater numbers. Good for Share to Buy, but bad for councils with inadequate housing supply and worse for tenants left chasing fewer available rental properties.

Moreover, as tenants seek to retain the same roof over their head, in spite of Clause 24 driving their respective landlords from the rental sector, the market for Share to Buy mortgages – which Share to Buy’s brokerage arms just happens to specialise in purveying – will undoubtedly be stimulated – source.

It appears then that James Cartlidge is rather more informed of the realities of Clause 24 than his comments in the House of Commons would indicate. It also appears that the MP for Suffolk and founder of Share to Buy stands to profit significantly from this ultimately destructive tax grab. Worse still, rather than operating alone, this individual is one of a bunch of Conservative MPs and donors, applauding their patriarch, George Osborne, and the predatory fiscal policy designed to skew the private rental sector in their favour that he so willingly bestows.

Viewed in isolation, James Cartlidge’s comparison of working and middle-class landlords to “dodgy dictators”, and his insinuation of Cherie Blair acting as an agent of the corrupt, can be taken as pathetic political bandwagoning. But it is upon consideration of Cartlidge’s extra-parliamentary background, that his pronouncements in the Commons become worthy of serious concern. James Cartlidge’s contributions as MP for Suffolk are symptomatic of a suborned and deceitful Tory government.



Comments

Kate Mellor

10:32 AM, 12th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Here here! This whole process is just one major PR exercise which is false from start to finish. Brilliantly written and argued with FACTS a little thing sadly missing from the emotive political diatribes we keep having shoved down our throats.

Chris Byways

11:20 AM, 12th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Well commented.

BUT, you have to congratulate Jimmy Cartlidge on one thing, he is such a caring Tory.

No s21s. Look how they do it.....

"We saw another solution at the Elephant and Castle, which was difficult but there was no alternative. It was to allow the estate to run down and become empty over time. That is the toughest part of the process."

Chris Byways

11:36 AM, 12th February 2016
About 3 years ago

With the massive price drops seen in areas outside London (see other thread for examples*), and London being potentially in a massive bubble, help to buy is putting massive numbers of people at risk of repossession, and shared ownership, which is right only for SOME, yet throwing those that WANT OR NEED to rent at risk of eviction, just so the smarmy money grabbing likes of Cartlidge can profit.

How does he counter his governments figures that 53% of RENTERS feel THAT IS THE RIGHT TENURE FOR THEM?

* http://www.property118.com/judicial-review-landlord-tax-grab/83130/comment-page-16/#comment-72843

Jonathan James

22:58 PM, 13th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Daily Mail Online - 12th July 2105

MP James on the fast track - after just nine weeks in the job

There is no more important parliamentary half-hour for David Cameron each week than Prime Minister’s Questions. Even after five years in the job, he still devotes Wednesday morning to preparing for it.

So it is striking that he has added a newly elected MP to his prep team, James Cartlidge. The South Suffolk MP, a former researcher, was recruited at Cameron’s request as the pair knew each other from the days when they used to ready Iain Duncan Smith for his duels with Tony Blair.

Now he gets to spend a morning a week with the Prime Minister, Cartlidge is an extremely good bet to be one of the first of the new intake to get promoted.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-3157834/The-Chequers-Cabinet-running-Britain-Dave-George-err-s-it.html

Jonathan James

8:35 AM, 14th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Sorry! ...... 12th July 2015 NOT 2105!!

Jonathan James

13:07 PM, 14th February 2016
About 3 years ago

James Cartlidge's comments made on 9th February 2016 are self serving, factually incorrect and propagandistic.
Surely it is no coincidence his being elected as a Conservative MP in May 2015 and the sudden and completely unexpected attack on BTL landlords in the Summer Budget only two months later?
James Cartlidge tweeted on 11 June 2015 "Raised my concerns in housing debate on impact of buy-to-let on first time buyers", and this is what he said:-
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm150610/debtext/150610-0002.htm#15061057001716
This is what he had previously published in 2014:-
http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2014/10/james-cartlidge-its-time-to-rebalance-the-housing-market-from-investors-to-occupiers.html
Note "level playing field" etc etc, in fact much of the wording matches that in GO's Summer Budget speech.
To cap it all, James C tweeted on 25 November 2015 "In Oct 2014 I called for higher stamp duty on buy to let and 2nd home purchases. Great to see it implemented today".
It is becoming increasingly apparent that this man may have single handedly manipulated the Conservative Government into introducing a previously unheard-of rate of tax (on income, not profit) which will bankrupt unincorporated landlords and render thousands of tenants homeless. The fact that he has such a huge personal vested interest in all this happening is, quite frankly, sickening.
Surely there are affected landlords in South Suffolk who could expose him to the local press? Also The Telegraph may want to take this up?

Chris Byways

15:44 PM, 14th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jonathan James" at "14/02/2016 - 13:07":

Probably has no bearing but does fancy a tipple according to Wiki

what was the 2004 web site, HPC?

"Cartlidge is a businessman, and founded a website which helps first time home buyers in 2004. He has taken a train journey from Sudbury to Marks Tey to highlight issues to people travelling by train. His first political act was to bring a barrel of beer from Suffolk into the House of Commons, which he drank with his new parliamentary colleagues."

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Cartlidge

A contributor to this site Cllr Cartlidge has his own business, Share to Buy, which helps people buy shared equity social housing.

Appalled Landlord

19:39 PM, 15th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jonathan James" at "14/02/2016 - 13:07":

Hi Jonathan

Thanks for the links. To be fair to Cartlidge, he pointed out what would happen if existing BTL properties were attacked.

In his maiden speech on 10 June 2015, a month before the summer budget, he said:

“One specific issue that I feel very strongly about is the growth of buy-to-let. I would never criticise anybody who has invested in property, especially given that we have had such problems in our pensions sector, not least because of the tax brought in—again—by Gordon Brown. I do not blame anyone for doing that, and I do not think we should do anything to clamp down on existing buy-to-let, because that would force rents up.”

This was wise advice. However, it was ignored by Osborne, and was denied in the impact statement from HMRC, which obviously knows more about the subject than someone in the property business.

Appalled Landlord

12:45 PM, 16th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jonathan James" at "14/02/2016 - 13:07":

Hi Jonathan

In October 2014 Cartlidge wrote, in the article that your second link takes us to: http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2014/10/james-cartlidge-its-time-to-rebalance-the-housing-market-from-investors-to-occupiers.html :

“But what about the many investors unlikely to require a mortgage? This is likely to apply to much of the overseas money which has been the biggest factor in driving London house prices to stratospheric new highs”

He did not blame Borrow To Let landlords for the London price bubble.

Nor did het “think we should do anything to clamp down on existing buy-to-let, because that would force rents up”.

The following July, Osborne clamped down on existing buy-to-lets, and Cameron advertised for more foreign buyers, at 22.46: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nwkpWEDN28

It’s very near the end of the written version:
https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/tackling-corruption-pm-speech-in-singapore

When Cartlidge helps to prepare Cameron for PMQ’s, does Cameron ask his advice with the intention of doing the opposite of whatever Cartlidge says?


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