Now that Philip Hammond has made his first, and as it happens, last spring budget, we are able to reflect on the brave changes he has ushered in that will tackle the stagnation of the prime market, and marvel at his even handed approach to landlords, going against the current policy of disapproving of the role that they play in housing the UK population. Or not quite.
Although the Treasury has been apparently looking at the data on stamp duty land tax, and also at the revenue brought in by the tax, which has been less than expected, Philip Hammond has still failed to take action.
When Margaret Thatcher introduced the poll tax, it was a kick in the teeth for Tory voters, and with the hindsight now of seeing it as a vote loser, obviously not a good idea. The current anti-landlord, anti-London home policies, and now increases to National Insurance again strike me as being counter to the core values of a large chunk of Tory voters.
The current stamp duty arrangements seem to stem from the “mansion tax” furore that you may recall; essentially this idea that anyone purchasing a home for over £925,000 must be a playboy living a lavish lifestyle or perhaps a super-wealthy Russian, and therefore should fall into the 10% or 12% bands is simply not a fair reflection of the truth. Those living in and around London will be well aware of how humble these properties could be, particularly when trying to house a family.
With the UK property market being worth untold trillions to our economy, any government, particularly a Tory one, should not be burdening buyers with shackles of huge tax bills, and property aside, should be encouraging small businesses and entrepreneurialism that is so important to our economy. Unfortunately, the government seems to be missing the trick. Increased activity is what will bring more money into the government coffers, not increased taxes that stymie growth and stagnate markets. Still, there's always the autumn budget....