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Them & Us
Duke of Westminster
How do you get to be the fifth richest person in Britain? Hard work? Big ideas? Low cunning?
No. The answer is: inherit. The recent death of Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster, left his son Hugh with an estimated net worth of £9.35 billion (Sunday Times Rich List 2016).
That's more than the gross domestic product of Albania (£9.34 billion, IMF 2016 estimate). His grace's considerable estate dates back to 1677, and includes 300 acres of millionaires' stomping grounds in west London.
Still, at least austerity Britain's coffers can expect a hefty inheritance tax windfall. About £4 billion if estimates of the 7th duke's wealth are accurate.
But no! The Grosvenor family owns its extensive lands through a trust rather than individually. Trustees may die, but trusts cannot - so no pesky inheritance tax.
Britain's private landlords collectively received £9.3 billion in tenants' housing benefit last year.
This figure has nearly doubled in a decade, says a report by social landlord umbrella the National Housing Federation. If all those private renters on housing benefit were in affordable homes, the bill would fall by £1.5 billion.
Nearly half of those claiming housing benefit are in work. This is nothing more than free money for big landlords and mortgage lenders, and a subsidy to poverty-pay employers.
The Socialist says: nationalise the land and take over empty properties, paying compensation only on the basis of proven need. No more free rides for super-rich landowners and property speculators. For rent caps and a mass programme of quality council house building.
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