Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered an upbeat and combative Budget peppered with quips. As predicted, he had little room for manoeuvre but he managed to pull a few rabbits from the hat.
The biggest of these was undoubtedly the abolition of stamp duty for first-time buyers on properties up to £300,000, confounding experts who were expecting merely the announcement of a temporary stamp duty holiday. Philip Hammond went further. Recognising that there’s not much on the market for sale for up to £300,000 in London he extended the measure to cancel stamp duty for first-time buyers on the first £300,000 of properties costing up to £500,000.
James Bailey, CEO of Henry & James, said: “This is a wonderful move to help first-time buyers but unsurprisingly it does little to help purchasers in prime central London where most prices significantly exceed that threshold. I would like to have seen perhaps a cut in stamp duty across the board, maybe in place of the move to allow local authorities to charge 100% more in council tax on empty homes.
“However, I’m not greatly surprised that there are no measures to help unlock the top end of the housing market. Everything remains much the same. It was a Budget to appeal to the youth vote, understandably. First-time buyers should be very pleased.”
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