Labour: 4G to fund new homes and SDLT holiday

Sarah Davidson

October 1, 2012

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls will tell Labour party conference delegates in Manchester later today this “urgent action” will kick start growth and support jobs.

He will say: “With this one-off windfall from the sale of the 4G spectrum, let’s cut through the dither and rhetoric and actually do something. Not more talk, but action right now.

“Let’s commit that money from the 4G sale and build over the next two years: 100,000 new homes – affordable homes to rent and to buy – creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and getting the construction industry moving again.

“Add to that a stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers, and we can deliver real help for people aspiring to get on the property ladder.”

The 4G sale has been estimated to generate between £3bn and £4bn and will offer faster download speeds for mobile phone users.

In 2000 the 3G spectrum auction raised £22.5bn which helped the then Labour government pay down national debt.

Ben Thompson, managing director Legal & General Mortgage Club, said: “The introduction of a two year stamp duty break for first time buyers, combined with the construction of 100,000 new affordable homes is exactly the kind of measures housing market needs to boost growth.

“The average age of first time buyers has been increasing steadily over the last five years due to a combination stringent lending criteria, high deposit requirements and a lack of affordable housing.

“A stamp duty holiday on properties up to £250,000 will certainly help to rectify this issue.

“This proposed innovation by the shadow chancellor is exactly what the UK economy needs to stimulate growth.

“During the stamp duty holiday we saw end in March 2012, the CML revealed data which indicated a 7% jump in loans to FTBs during December 2011.

“The appetite is clearly out there for first time buyers to get onto the property ladder. However, current market conditions make it extremely difficult. Both the government and lenders need to work together to make homeownership more achievable for more people, and a stamp duty break would definitely be a step in the right direction.”

Matthew Turner, director of buying agents Astute Property Search, added: “Balls is no mug. He knows that the recent stamp duty holiday lifted transaction levels and created a feel-good factor in the property market.

“It’s this feel-good factor that he’s trying to associate his own party with. There’s no doubt that a two year stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers would boost the property and broader construction markets. At the moment, there is little activity in the market other than at the higher end where people have equity and sufficient deposits.”

But Turner added that the problem was “this is a promise based on a premise — that Balls ever gets back into power”.

And he said: “The affordable homes part of Balls’ plan will more than likely be viewed as just another hare-brained scheme that is unlikely to make any material difference to the market.”

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