Land ownership revelations prompt Labour calls for new tax

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for “radical change” after a new book suggested half of England is owned by less than 1% of its population.

Some 25,000 landowners – including members of the aristocracy and corporations – have control of half the country, according to author and investigator Guy Shrubsole.

See also: Radical shake-up of agricultural tenancies proposed

Mr Shrubsole, who is a Friends of the Earth campaigner, said: “Land ownership in England is astonishingly unequal, heavily concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite.”

The statistics have fuelled calls among Labour MPs and other campaigners for the government to introduce a tax on land values or ownership.

Mr Corbyn tweeted: “Don’t let anyone tell you our country doesn’t need radical change.”

Freedom of Information

The findings, which are based on public maps, Land Registry records and Freedom of Information requests, are contained in the book Who Owns England?

Mr Shrubsole estimates that “the aristocracy and gentry still own around 30% of England” although the figure may be higher as 17% of land ownership in England and Wales is undeclared.

Labour MP David Lammy tweeted: “This level of inequality is nothing less than obscene.

Land tax

“We need radical solutions to spread the wealth that comes with land more evenly – starting with a land value tax.”

Defra secretary Michael Gove hinted last autumn that the government might be preparing to look at the tax structures around agricultural land.

But he said the issue was a matter for the Treasury rather than for Defra.