MHA | Stamp Duty is an obvious candidate for cuts, but timing is…

Stamp Duty is an obvious candidate for cuts, but timing is crucial

Joe Sullivan · February 14th 2024 · read

Aerial Houses Residential Britis

Final pre-election budgets tend to be short term in thinking, with self-preservation driving most of the Chancellor’s announcements - the Construction and Real Estate sectors needs the opposite of this, in clearly defined and funded medium term strategic leaps.

Housing will be on the front line of the election, directly impacting crosses in boxes when the day comes. The government must surely do something to back up their future manifesto plans in this area. Given the Chancellor has less room for fiscal manoeuvre than he hoped, Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is the obvious candidate. A give away costs a fraction of potential reductions in other taxes.

SDLT also contributes towards the lack of supply in certain facets of the market. In addition to breaks for first time buyers, what about breaks if you are downsizing only homes, or for owners over a certain age?

Quality second move homes are in short supply, driving up prices, and making such moves unattainable for many, arguably inhibiting wider economic productivity - further reason why this is a no brainer for a government looking for economic growth.

However, the Chancellor should be conscious of sign-posting a future break in SDLT. All this will achieve in the short term is the deferral of completions, as buyers look to bank future savings. This would cause unintentional harm, at a time when sector finances are under duress. Any changes should be immediate.

We would hope to see more on the planning reforms introduced in the Autumn Statement. As with many policies, the headlines look good, but if local authorities don’t have the means to efficiently implement them, they are dead on announcement. 

For more insights on potential measures from the Chancellor in his Spring Budget, view our full Wishlist article.

For further guidance

For further guidance on any of the tax measures discussed in this article, please contact your usual MHA advisor or Contact Us.

Read the latest Spring Budget commentary from MHA – visit our dedicated hub where we will be providing resources, advice and practical guidance on what any new tax measures could mean for you and your business, to help you prepare for and manage their impact.

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