WHILST HOME OWNERSHIP IN WAVERLEY IS JUST A PIPE DREAM FOR MANY, LOCAL MP, JEREMY HUNT, HOOVERS UP SEVEN (Yes! SEVEN!) APARTMENTS IN SOUTHAMPTON!
As Home and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid is poised to publish his decision on whether or not to endorse Waverley Council’s decision to build 1,800 new homes on Dunsfold Aerodrome, The Sun newspaper has shone its light on SW Surrey and Waverley MP, Jeremy Hunt’s bid to become a landlord.
Of course, if the decision goes against the Dunsfold scheme it will be proof indeed that it was not a planning decision but a political decision!
Because the man who joined fellow MP Anne Milton in urging Secretary of State Sajid Javid to call in Dunsfold, but unlike the Guildford & Waverley MP, hasn’t had the guts to admit it, has now acquired seven buy-to-let properties in Southampton just down the M3 from his constituency.
In 2009, Hunt-the-Shunt was openly hostile to the bid by the Rutland Group to build homes at Dunsfold Park and, along with fellow MP, Mistress Anne Milton, opposed development on the Aerodrome at a Public Inquiry. Seven years later with – the Leadership of the Tory Party and, ultimately, the prize of Prime Minister, in his sights – his new career as a buy-to-let property-mogul could be a crowning glory as he opposes development in his own backyard but buys property in someone else’s. He has named his new property company after his home in Markwick Lane on the outskirts of Dunsfold!
He doesn’t have any objection to building per se, you understand, … just not in his backyard!
So, having hidden behind Mistress Milton’s skirts and allowed her to take the flack for homes being built over the borough’s countryside rather than on its largest brownfield site, our budding property-mogul prepares to join other notable politicians in the buy-to-let game by hoovering up seven properties across the border in Southampton, Hampshire.
So, whilst his colleague, Dominic Raab, MP for Esher and Walton, is busy saying fixing Surrey’s ‘broken housing market’ is a ‘top priority’, The Sun has revealed that Hunt-the-Shunt is facing questions about his own growing property empire. The average home in Surrey costs in excess of £500,000, a WHOPPING 14 times the average local salary! So hypocrite Hunt hovers over Hampshire to add to his constituency home in Markwick Lane, Dunsfold and his ultra-smart stucco-fronted central London pad.
This isn’t the first time Hunt has put his personal interests above those of the electorate. In April 2012, he was accused of a spot of perfectly legal but deliberate tax dodging after avoiding £100,000 in tax by completing a multi-million-pound property deal just weeks before the election. The then Culture Secretary was paid a dividend by the company he founded (Hotcourses) in the form of ownership of half the firm’s office building, offices then immediately leased back to Hotcourses for 10 years by Mr Hunt and his business partner, Mike Elms. Accountants said the deal allowed Hunt to legally reduce his tax bill by more than £100,000 because it was completed just days before the tax on dividends rose by 10%!
Earlier that same week, David Cameron, the then PM, had said he would not associate himself with anyone who carried out ‘aggressive tax avoidance’, whilst the then Chancellor, George Osborne, had previously said he was ‘shocked’ by the scale of tax avoidance by some of Britain’s wealthiest people! At the time, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP was rumoured to be one of the wealthiest members of the Tory cabinet.
Talk about hypocrisy!
By paying themselves the building as a dividend before the change in the tax rules, Hunt and his partner saved themselves a total income tax bill of £202,000 on a £1.8million payment!
Hotcourses went on to pay Messrs Hunt and Elms £60,750 a year to rent the premises after the motley pair avoided 4% stamp duty on the property!
So it was a win, win, win for our local MP.
At a time when attaining a mortgage is increasingly unrealistic and high private rental levels make saving for a deposit more difficult, it is deeply disappointing, not to say disconcerting, to see our MP, a cabinet minister, contributing to the housing crisis by bulk-buying apartments. The average worker in Waverley would need a 211% pay increase to fund a mortgage; while our multi-millionaire MP acquires seven properties in the blink of an eye!
So, while our Jeremy has no compunction in objecting to housing development on his doorstep, a development that would prove a godsend to his hard-pressed constituents eager to get a foot on the ladder, he bags newly developed properties and helps fuel the housing crisis by buying up property on someone else’s!