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New twist in website's spat with BBC over Osborne buy to let tax changes

There has been a new development in a long-running spat between a website and the BBC over the corporation’s news coverage of George Osborne’s buy to let tax changes.

Property118, a website that backs the campaign to seek a judicial review of George Osborne’s changes to landlords’ mortgage interest tax relief, contacted the BBC back in March to complain about a report by business correspondent Joe Lynam at the end of February.

The corporation defended the piece, saying: “We have been careful to fully and fairly explain all sides of the debate, including the Government’s aim to assist first time buyers, landlords’ fears as a result of the changes coming into force, the views of existing rental tenants and potential first time buyers.

“Joe Lynam referred to some research which had been undertaken by the Council of Mortgage Lenders / Property Partner which was relevant to the issue being reported. In crediting their research to them, we did not promote or endorse these organisations or their views.

“The above all being the case, whilst we appreciate that you may have strong views on the legislation changes as they may affect you personally, we stand by our reporting of this issue as being both fair and balanced.”

However, the website has since accused the BBC of repeating “anti-landlord propoganda and Treasury misinformation” and of an interview in the piece being “hi-jacked” by an organisation which provided a “docile landlord” who did not oppose the legislation.

The website and its supporters have contacted the BBC again, and the corporation has written a further response including the phrase: “We are sorry to tell you that we have nothing to add to our previous reply.”

The website is now describing the reply as “arrogant” and is urging its backers to use a BBC appeal process to escalate the issue to the corporation’s ruling body, the BBC Trust.

  • Simon shinerock

    The BBC cannot provide balananced reporting on this issue without allowing both sides to express their standpoint. It is well known that the BBC is dominated by left wing luvvues whose natural instincts would be to support any attack on Landlords and support tenants and first time buyers with whom the majority of their staff identify. The thing that has occurred to me is that the kind of changes Osbourne is able to make have to be blunt instruments, even if they reflect the right pricing (stamp duty and income tax) on any given day, they are not intelligent or agile enough to adapt to what actually happens. It's a bit like a share price being fixed on the basis of social concerns having no regard to supply and demand. Perhaps, with the advance in tech, we may see a more agile, intelligent tax system in the future

  • Peter Gunby

    The BBC has been fair and Osbourne’s changes are well over due.
    Having a housing sector with too large a private rental sector is not conducive to the wellbeing of society especially without any security of tenure and rent controls. Private landlords have had unbelievable capital growth and returns in recent years which has resulted in landlords being able to build bigger portfolios at the expense of first time buyers
    One needs a government policy that ensures that the private rental sector reduces below 15% again. Anything above that percentage is not good for society.
    It is not a question of being a lefty lovie it is just having a moral compass.
    On a personal note I would far prefer to pay more tax to help the welfare state than the alternative, rent controls, which would be labours answer.
    These tax initiatives are the least we could have hoped for and I support them and so should every landlord.

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    I take it you're from the South East, Peter? The BTL market extends beyond the M25 and there has NOT been 'unbelievable capital growth'.

    The problems in housing are as a result of poor planning by successive governments not looking beyond the next GE and not the fault of landlords.

    Regardless of your opinion, GO's changes will not help more own their own home and you'd be a fool to believe so.

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