Stamp duty rumours for Budget are pre-election 'smoke and mirrors'

Stamp duty rumours for Budget are pre-election 'smoke and mirrors'

24 March 2010 / by Rachael Stiles

Rumours are circulating that another change to stamp duty could be announced in the Budget today, Chancellor Alistair Darling's last one before the next general election.

The BBC has reported this morning that the Chancellor is expected to be scrapping stamp duty on residential properties worth up to £250,000 for first time buyers, with the aim of making it easier for them to get on the property ladder and give a much needed boost to the property market.

But, Trevor Kent, former president of the National Association of Estate Agents believes this is a cynically strategic move, motivated by the upcoming general election and that if it comes to pass, will not be as beneficial to buyers or the housing market as expected.

"To dangle such a carrot in front of aspiring home owners just weeks before the election must be seen for what it is - electioneering smoke and mirrors," said Mr Kent. "It is also a sop to the strong national builders lobby as the majority of the sales thus encouraged with be on rotting empty over-developed city centre offerings they are desperate to shift.

"If only First Time Buyers are to be helped what of the retirees down-sizing, the owners facing repossession and looking for less expensive homes - they will still be paying the punitive tax of up to £2500 to buy."

If this is the case, and the majority of eligible sales will be empty new-build flats, then this will not help the traditional chains of sales, and will not have a significant impact on the real property market.

The Chancellor has previously suspended stamp duty for proeprties worth up to £175,000, but that stamp duty holiday ended at the beginning of 2010.

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