Angela Rayner: There was no tax deceit during sale of ex-council house

Angela Rayner said she did “nothing wrong” when selling her former council house before she became an MP following questions about whether she paid the right amount of tax on the sale.

The deputy Labour leader repeated her denial that any capital gains tax had been due on the property sale from 2015, saying she had reached that conclusion after consulting tax experts.

During emotive remarks at a lunch on Thursday with Westminster reporters, she criticised the decision by some media outlets to publish her child’s birth certificate as journalists looked to verify whether her living situation meant she had further tax to pay.

Ms Rayner, who is also the shadow housing secretary, called the move “totally unacceptable”.

The mother of three said it was “wrong” that she was having to “trawl through all of my personal details” in response to press reports about the sale as she called for privacy.

Ms Rayner has rejected suggestions in a book by a former Conservative Party deputy chairman, titled Red Queen? The Unauthorised Biography of Angela Rayner, that she failed to properly declare her main residency.

Lord Ashcroft’s book alleges that the MP for Ashton-under-Lyne bought her former council house, in Vicarage Road in Stockport, Greater Manchester, with a 25% discount in 2007 under right-to-buy, a scheme introduced by former Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1980.

The former carer is said to have made a £48,500 profit when selling the house eight years later.

According to an article last month by the Mail On Sunday (MoS), which is serialising Lord Ashcroft’s book, documents indicate that Ms Rayner was registered on the electoral roll at her former council house for five years after she married Mark Rayner in 2010.

Government guidance says that a tenant can apply to buy their council home through the right-to-buy scheme if it is their “only or main home”.

Her husband was listed at another address in Lowndes Lane, about a mile away, which had also been bought under the right-to-buy scheme.

In the same year as her wedding, Ms Rayner is said to have re-registered the births of her two youngest children, giving her address as where her husband resided.

Ms Rayner insists that Vicarage Road was her “principal property” despite her husband living elsewhere at the time.

Tax expert Dan Neidle has estimated that, while Ms Rayner may not have owed anything in capital gains tax following the sale depending on her residency situation, there are circumstances in which she could have owed as much as £3,500 to the taxman.

Asked by reporters about Mr Neidle’s calculations, the Opposition frontbencher said there was “no capital gains tax to pay”.

She said: “At the time of the sale of the house, I was a home carer and it was my home.

“I took legal advice, as you do when you sell a property, and I had an estate agent that worked with me on that.

“I’ve had expert tax advice, I’ve looked into it and there is no capital gains tax for me to pay and, therefore, that is my position on that.”

Angela Rayner
Angela Rayner is also the shadow housing secretary (James Manning/PA)

Ms Rayner was also quizzed on her living arrangements at the time and about whether the house she sold under right-to-buy had been her main home.

She said: “Vicarage Road was my principal property but when my children were born, I would spend time at Lowndes Lane because my children … I had a teenager and two babies.

“My son was born at 23 weeks. I spent eight months in intensive care with him, I wasn’t really bothered about where my clothes were on a certain night.

“But my house was my house at Vicarage Road and I paid all my bills there, that was my home.

“But I did spend time at Lowndes Lane at times, of course I did. And then when I sold Vicarage Road, I lived at Lowndes Lane because I didn’t have a house and I registered there when I moved in there.

“But there was never any deceivement (sic) or any problems with, or any question about avoiding capital gains or not saying what was right on the electoral roll. That was my house.”

Lord Ashcroft
Lord Ashcroft has produced a book about Angela Rayner (James Edgar/PA)

Ms Rayner said her family “deserves some privacy” given the young age of her teenage children, who are currently 14 and 15, and following death threats made against her.

“I am having to give more and more information about people that don’t particularly want to be in the public eye and haven’t asked to be,” she continued.

“My child now is 15 and he has seen all of this. And they (sections of the media) published the birth certificate of my son, which is totally unacceptable at a time when my children are also finding out about whether or not there is risk to their mum and everything.

“I try and protect people who don’t ask to be in the public eye. And that is why I’ve been very clear: I’ve had expert tax advice, I’ve done nothing wrong.

“But detailing in great detail every bit about what was an incredibly difficult time for my family, when we didn’t know whether my son was going to need 24-hour care or not, even if he survived at the time — this is the context of it.

“I don’t feel like I should have to give all of that in the public domain.

“I’ve given the information that was appropriate, which was that I have not done anything wrong; the police investigated and said there is no wrongdoing. I’ve had expert tax advice that says I’ve not dodged any tax or anything else.

“So for me then to have to keep having to trawl through all of my personal details … I think that it is wrong and I think my family deserves some privacy.”