Scarborough responds to Budget

Amanda Jarvis

March 24, 2006

John Carrier, chief executive of Scarborough Building Society, said: “Overall, I find this year’s budget a little boring. There are no real surprises, no bad news but by the same token, no silver bullets either.

“The figures indicate that the economy and housing market should remain reasonably buoyant, but with none of the extreme lows and highs of previous years.

“For example, while inflation is stable and the economy is forecast to grow at a steady pace, people should not expect a repeat of the housing windfalls they have enjoyed in the past.

“Many families will find themselves a little better off thanks to the announced changes in personal tax allowances and child tax credit provisions — as well as Child Trust Fund incentives.

“That said, there is little good news for first-time buyers in the North. Although the new shared equity scheme will help a very limited number of people — some 35,000 nationally — to get their feet on the first rung of the housing ladder, there is not much in the pot for rural communities in regions like ours.

“Similarly, for families ready to move onto the second or third rung of the housing ladder, there is no quick fix in terms of the Stamp Duty burden. While the threshold has been raised by £5,000, rising house prices have outpaced the increase in the exemption.

“For those wishing to leave something to their families, again, the Inheritance Tax threshold is to be raised gradually over the next few years, but this is insufficient to match the rise in people’s personal wealth because of house price inflation.

“I would have liked to see more incentives to encourage people to save for the long-term in light of the pensions issue and high levels of personal debt. I am pleased that the Chancellor has confirmed that tax free allowances on ISA accounts will be maintained, but would have welcomed more radical moves such as a long overdue simplification of ISA rules — perhaps also increasing the amount more risk-averse investors are allowed to save in cash rather than stocks and shares.”

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