Fine words, Mr Cameron….
Now for some action.
On the use of London property for money-laundering.
It is a deep-rooted problem and action will have a damaging impact. The spate of high-profile developments in London, particularly but not exclusively on Battersea Reach – either side of Nine Elms Lane, where the new American Embassy is being built and by Battersea Power Station – depends on this foreign investment to be economic. Even with it, it would seem that there’s building up for an over-supply at the high end, where one-beds are up to a million. But if you take the 30,000 units used to launder money out of the equation: price crash inevitable. Lots of Cameron’s mates will be hurt.
The issue is relatively easily solved, if Mr Cameron is willing. First, insist that all UK property be owned by individuals or by EU-incorporated companies subject to full disclosure of beneficial ownership. Transparency, as ever, is key.
Secondly, stop these properties being left empty. Keeping property empty in London, with its housing shortage, is nothing short of criminal. Properties left empty should be subject to punitive taxation, ideally through a reformed council tax, although if that can’t be done, they should be subject to business rates.