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MPs line up to argue for a tapering off of Stamp Duty Holiday

Tuesday 02 February 2021

In yesterday evening’s Stamp Duty Land Tax debate in parliament, MPs reported that multiple constituents have contacted them raising issues with delayed sales due to COVID restrictions and the conveyancing logjam.

MPs repeatedly outlined scenarios of prices agreed on the basis of the Stamp Duty holiday which will not be able to complete if their transactions do not qualify for the exemption. Many of those who participated drew a picture of thousands of pounds, spent by voters, on surveys and searches undertaken in good faith, in anticipation of saving the property tax. While many agreed that it is not the right time for the Treasury to overhaul the tax and spend system, there does appear to be consensus within Parliament that the holiday arrangements should taper off, rather than end if a cliff edge.

Propertymark lobbying

Propertymark presented the case for tapering the property tax off in our recent submission to the Treasury’s upcoming budget, suggesting that those who have an offer formally accepted prior to the end of the current cut to stamp duty, qualify for the relief. Tapering would offer greater parity to those in a proceedable position, only waiting due to delays with mortgage offers, conveyancing, searches, and removals.

The debate highlighted the importance of contacting your MP. Examples were cited of completions delayed due to lockdown and highlighted that moves have been forced by bereavement and family breakdown in addition to those moving for increased space or location.

Avoiding a cliff edge

Kevin Hollinrake MP, founding partner of Hunters Estate Agents, talked about markets approaching a cliff edge and the danger that an extension would kick the problem down the road. He endorsed calls for tapering of the holiday but warned that the market was already strong before this introduced and therefore extending it could create a property market bubble.

The Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP responded on behalf of the Treasury saying that the UK Government are aware of the strength of feeling and fully understand the frustrations of those involved. He talked about many thousands of people working in the sector and thanked everyone for their efforts. He went on to say that the rationale for introducing the holiday was to combat Covid-related uncertainty and said that the approach had worked as a policy with transactions up 34% in December year on year.

The Treasury are unable to comment on tax policy outside of a fiscal event however, the debate sent an important message about the importance the Stamp Duty holiday and Propertymark members should continue to contact their MP, illustrating the issue with real life examples.

Quote mark

We welcome today’s important debate on the issue of the stamp duty holiday, and are pleased to see that there is clearly cross-party support for a holiday extension or tapered end given the concerning cliff-edge is now only two months away.

The housing market boom, caused by the stamp duty holiday, has been hugely beneficial; however, the stamp duty cliff edge on the 31st March could cause thousands of sales to fall at the final hurdle and have a knock-on and drastic effect on the housing market which has recovered well from the Covid slump.

We are continuing to call on the UK Government to rethink these timings, so pressure on the system can be released to allow transactions to complete and avoid a disorderly and distressing period for movers and businesses throughout the market.”

Mark Hayward, Propertymark Chief Policy Advisor