A tax rebate for those who purchase eco-homes has been called a con after it was revealed that only six households in the entirety of Britain benefited from the rebate.
UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling. Image by Antonio Cruz
The initial government plan involved giving back the stamp duty homebuyers pay if the home was an eco-friendly house. The stamp duty is a tax paid when purchasing land or homes.
But now, people are suggesting it’s merely a greenwashing swindle. The six households benefiting are definitely in the minority, as stamp tax has risen drastically for regular homebuyers in the last year. The government collected £6.4 billion in stamp duties last year, an increase of 40% on 2006 collections.
The green house tax rebate was an attempt to grow the market for eco-friendly homes, but the rules make it immensely difficult for anyone to actually qualify for the rebate. Shadow Treasury minister Justine Greening said: “These figures demonstrate the gulf between the government’s rhetoric on the environment and the reality. The Chancellor’s economically incompetent handling of this scheme shows it up to be an eco-tax con.”
One of the reasons the plan has been so unsuccessful is the guidelines homes have to meet to qualify for the rebate. Homes must be zero-carbon. However, the definitions of a zero-carbon home are different in the tax plan than in guidelines by the Department of Communities and Local Government.
Flats and maisonettes do not qualify for the tax rebate, even if they are zero-carbon. Also, the houses must get energy only from locally sourced renewable sources. This has excluded homes even in towns that are classified eco-friendly.
The government is not backing down as yet, but they do plan to make some changes to the rebate. They claim the rebates have yet to be claimed because they can only apply after a new eco-friendly home is sold. The Treasury department believes the number of homes qualifying will rise sharply soon. They are also considering allowing flats into the program.
Info from Guardian