Mayor’s tax plan revitalised city

Sir: In discussing poverty and crime (Opinion, 26 December), perhaps we should listen to the Mayor of Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania in the United States.

With the loss of mining and heavy industries, Harrisburg was suffering as a part of the rust belt of North America, and more than 20 years ago they introduced a successful new policy.

The Mayor claims much crime is committed by people with little money in their pockets, much free time on their hands and living in rundown areas with little civic pride.

The Mayor’s new policy? An annual land value tax where landowners are not taxed on the value of their buildings but on the value of their land.

Harrisburg’s annual land value tax resulted in the city’s empty and under-used sites being reduced by 85 per cent. New firms started up and there was much inward investment.

Businesses paying taxes to the city grew from 1,900 to almost 9,000. Unemployment fell by 19 per cent and 5,000 homes were built.

Now, with swaths of the city smartened up, civic pride is returning, many people who were previously unemployed have jobs, they have money in their pockets, their time is fully occupied and Harrisburg’s crime has fallen by a massive 58 per cent.

If John Reid, our Home Secretary, really wants to reduce crime, perhaps he should be asking Gordon Brown to introduce annual land value tax over here.

Dave Wetzel
Labour Land Campaign