Everyone hoped, but no-one truly expected anything to be done on Stamp Duty, especially with such a whacking great big debt hanging over all our heads – remember, £175bn is just for 2009/10. Combined with all the existing debt, the true figure increases to 59% of GDP, a whopping £831bn. With bills like that, it’s unlikely we will see a reduction in Stamp Duty any time soon. Once the housing market gets going again, Stamp Duty represents the quickest way of filling the government coffers.
The government made much of the interest generated in its HomeBuy Direct scheme but there was precious little evidence of people using it in any significant number to get on the housing ladder.
But then again this was no ordinary Budget. As Prime Minister Gordon Brown and chancellor Alistair Dealing continually repeat, we are living through unprecedented times. The government has saved the banking system and stopped major banks from going under and adding to country’s growing legion of unemployed.
Fair enough. But it needs to do more to get banks lending again to stop more firms going under. While the asset-backed securities guarantee scheme is welcome, it is long overdue and continues to lock out the specialist market.
Darling pledged lenders – presumably the ones the government has a stake in – would increase the amount lent this year to the tune of £20bn, but this will be little help unless LTV barriers are relaxed and more first-time buyers can get on the housing ladder.