Stamp duty overhaul tops industry wish list as Budget nears

Last month, chancellor Philip Hammond announced the Autumn Budget would be held on a Monday in October this year, as opposed to the traditional Wednesday in November.

The date falls the week after a Brexit summit in Brussels but a week before the November meeting in which more details on Britain’s plans to leave the EU are expected to be ironed out. There has been little mooted of what Hammond will announce on 29 October to date but the mortgage industry is nevertheless optimistic it will offer more for the sector than last year’s ‘damp squib’.

In advance of the Budget, Mortgage Strategy gathered opinions from the industry on what would be on the top of their wish list, with many favouring an overhaul of stamp duty for downsizers and landlords.

“Everyone knows that we are not building enough homes in this country, but we also need to address the distribution of the homes that we do have, and I would like to see the introduction of tax incentives to encourage downsizing and free up stock for buyers moving up the ladder.

“Rics recently called for changes to stamp duty, removing the tax for downsizers, which would free up larger, underused properties and improve the distribution of housing stock. This strikes me as a very sensible idea and it could have a net neutral impact on revenue takings if it increases the number of transactions.”

Brightstar chief executive Rob Jupp

“It might be easy to score political points by penalising landlords but, ultimately, it is tenants in the private rental sector who will suffer. So, while it is highly unlikely that we will see a reversal of buy-to-let tax changes, it would be comforting to hear some confirmation in the Budget that the government has achieved its objectives and that there will be no further intervention in the BTL market for the foreseeable future.

“This may not seem like a particularly ambitious request, but given rumblings about extending the various taxation and rule changes to limited company lending, I think a hands-off approach from now on could be the best outcome we can hope for in buy-to-let.”

Pepper Money managing director Colin Snowdon

“We’re still not building enough new homes, despite the fact that there are more development lenders than ever and access to finance has never been easier. A big part of the problem is the fact that housing ministers come and go as quick as Premier League managers. There’s zero consistency, often zero ministerial understanding of the property market itself and, to top it all off, never enough time to stick to a coherent game plan. In that sense, I’d like to see a cross-party working group with a remit that extends beyond the parliamentary cycle, which is imperative to have a material impact on the number of new homes being built.”

Thistle Finance managing director Mark Dyason

“A healthy housing market depends not just on introducing new buyers into the market, but also helping them to move through it and, at the moment, there are too many barriers in this area. I’d therefore like to see some incentives to boost the property market, such as improvements to stamp duty thresholds to benefit second-time movers.

“I would also like to see incentives to encourage greater productivity in the building sector, with measures to encourage smaller developers and also recruit more young people into the building trades.”

Secure Trust Bank managing director Esther Morley

“If the government wants to even come close to achieving its target of building 300,000 new homes a year, it really needs to lend a helping hand to developers. Housebuilders are already constrained by the red tape and walls of bureaucracy imposed on them by cash-strapped local councils.”

Naismiths national head of building surveying and asset recovery Gareth Belsham

“We would call on the chancellor to pressure local authorities into making their planning departments fit for purpose. I would like to see an investment in blockchain technology to revolutionise the house buying and selling process. If we can use technology to provide all parties with a clear view of a transaction, we will remove the barriers and blame culture that currently exists in the market.

“I’d also abolish stamp duty land tax for UK citizens and introduce a levy on overseas buyers, which would directly pay for creating lifetime homes for the homeless.”

Arnold & Baldwin Chartered Surveyors managing director Joe Arnold

“Stamp duty should be modernised for today’s lifestyle; particularly for those looking to downsize. There are many people over 60 who have a lot of equity in their property that they’d like to put towards various things but the level of stamp duty is offputting for them to downsize.

“If this was addressed, it would start the chain moving and benefit the whole market. It would also be a real positive for the buy-to-let market if the additional 3 per cent stamp duty on landlords was reduced to 1 per cent.”

A synopsis of the wish list of delegates at a recent Mortgage Intelligence roadshow, compiled by managing director Sally Laker

“I would love to see some form of tax relief for first-time buyers, perhaps in their first two years of ownership, which could help their affordability issues.

“Of course, there are blocks further in the chain, so further fiscal stimuli to the housing sector [are needed] to drive the construction of more homes, which has been talked about now for too long. And my third and final wish would be a reversal of recent capital gains tax changes.”

Foundation Home Loans director of marketing Jeff Knight

“Given the level of under-insurance and the risk that poses to households, anything that discourages people from either taking out insurance, or getting the right level of cover for their needs, is a retrograde step – so I hope there is no increase to Insurance Premium Tax.”

Paymentshield managing director Rob Evans

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  • Chris Hulme 8th October 2018 at 1:22 pm

    Perhaps we should reintroduce MIRAS for lower earners to persuade them out of rented homes and into ownership. Failing that, lets stop shoehorning everyone into home ownership – there are some that simply dont want to buy and have no desire to take on the commitment of a mortgage or property ownership. Policy makers should welcome the landlord not crucify them for gains in the public purse and media satisfaction.