MPs lean towards tapering of SDLT
Although ultimately proving inconclusive, MPs seemed to lean towards a tapering of the stamp duty (SDLT) holiday during a virtual House of Commons debate on the topic.
The debate took place due to a petition signed by more than 100,000 individuals, which called for a six-month extension to the stamp duty deadline in order to allow people to complete in time to take advantage of the tax relief.
No final outcome was reached during the 70-minute debate, but the expectation is that a decision will be announced in the Spring Budget on 3 March.
Elliot Colburn, a member of the petitions committee, said during his introduction that the government could put a phased and tapered winding down forward.
During the debate, Kevin Hollinrake said that moving the end date would simply create a further cliff edge similar to the one currently being touted as likely at 31 March.
Hollinrake suggested that buyers who had reached a certain stage of their purchase by the time of the current deadline should still be allowed to benefit from the stamp duty holiday.
Jesse Norman outlined that the number of people who signed the e-petition highlights the importance of the stamp duty holiday, and that the government is aware of the strength of feeling on the issue, and the stress involved in each property purchase.
Norman then thanked agents, conveyancers and all those in the property buying process who have worked so hard in challenging circumstances.
Karen Rodrigues, sales director at eConveyancer, said: “It’s unsurprising that the parliamentary stamp duty debate hasn’t resulted in an extension to the holiday today.
“Noise from HM Treasury in recent weeks has very much been that the end of March was a hard deadline.
“This focuses the mind for those who have transactions they want to complete ahead of that date and serves as a timely reminder about the importance of quality conveyancers who understand the importance of excellent customer service and how to use technology to deliver it.”
Guy Gittins, MD of estate agency Chestertons, said: “The one thing that is abundantly clear is that this stamp duty holiday has enabled thousands of people to afford to move; something that they have possibly been putting off for the last three years.
“This shows that the current stamp duty structure requires an urgent review, particularly in light of peoples’ changing needs following the pandemic.”
Bruce Burkitt, founder of Property Experts, said: “In the middle of a national crisis the holiday injected extra life into the market and incentivised purchasers across all levels of the market in a time of great uncertainty, so it would be a shame to halt that whilst we’re still in the midst of the pandemic.
“In my opinion, it would be beneficial to the market should the SDLT holiday be extended, even if it is tweaked to include at a minimum properties that have exchanged but are yet to complete, especially as many have been delayed due to the impacts of the current lockdown, which is slowing down conveyancing and the completion process as a whole.
“At a time when the UK economy is still below pre-pandemic levels the benefits of a strong and prosperous housing market cannot be understated and supports a wide range of industries, so there are also benefits to the government to extend the holiday period.
“The demand in the market has remained strong, which has undoubtedly been sustained by the removal of stamp duty, especially in the first-time buyer market.
“There are also other buyers with various needs, whether it’s due to changing demands of what they want from a home or for personal reasons, or families for example looking to upsize in order to accommodate and care for elderly relatives.
“It would be a tremendous shame to lose the momentum built thus far.”