Stamp duty

How much longer can the Treasury rig the housing market?

The past 15 months have produced a bizarre economic paradox. In 2020, the economy shrank at the fastest rate recorded in modern times: 9.9 per cent. Yet house prices have not merely weathered the storm, they have risen at the fastest rate since the height of the property boom in the 2000s. According to Nationwide, the average value of a UK home has risen by 13.9 percent in the past 12 months. Halifax puts it a little more modestly at a 9.5 percent annual rise. Yet there is a pretty clear picture of a rising market driven by a lack of stock and a desperation from many people to move home

My stamp duty solution for the Chancellor

On the Wednesday in early July when Rishi Sunak announced a temporary increase from £125,000 to £500,000 in the stamp duty threshold for house purchases, a record 8.5 million people visited the Rightmove property website and I’m pretty sure I was one of them. I continued visiting it weekly: it became a lockdown obsession, alongside French television thrillers, until last month I finally spotted a London flat I wanted to buy. Now, like thousands of others, I’m pushing to complete before 31 March, when the stamp duty holiday — a £15,000 saving for me but the equivalent of a £3.9 billion annual giveaway for the Treasury — is due to

A proportional property tax would be a disaster

Two of the most unpopular taxes in Britain are stamp duty and council tax, property taxes both, seen as economically damaging and unfair. So it is not surprising there is a noisy campaign, gaining widespread coverage, to abolish them both and replace them with a simple ‘proportional property tax’. The more your home is worth, the more you pay — what could be fairer and simpler? Although well intentioned, this new property tax is a genuinely bad idea. To be revenue neutral for the Treasury, campaigners estimate it needs to be set at 0.48 per cent of the value of the property per year — so that someone with a £1

We’ll never know whether Huawei is still listening

This column has been banging on about the peculiar nature of Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant, ever since its expanded presence in the UK won what I described as ‘grateful applause from David Cameron’ back in 2012. I have deployed everything from serious intelligence sources to laborious knock-knock jokes (‘Huawei who?’ ‘Who are we kidding, prime minister? We don’t need to knock on your front door when we’ve already got a backdoor device in the Downing Street switchboard’) to make my point that the proliferation of Huawei kit in UK telecoms networks represented an obvious but unquantifiable security risk. Which means I can’t disagree with the government’s belated decision to

Barometer: Who can use the word ‘royal’?

What a hole The World Health Organisation added processed meats to its list of ‘known’ carcinogens. A few of the other things which have been claimed to be linked to cancer in the past fortnight: A hole built into the wall of a NatWest bank branch in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, became an unlikely tourist destination with five-star reviews on TripAdvisor. Some other surprising attractions: — The Bude tunnel is a 230-yard Perspex tunnel linking a supermarket to its car park in Bude, Cornwall. It started to gain five-star reviews when it was decorated with Christmas lights. ­­ ­— Streets of bungalows in Kidlington, Oxfordshire, became a destination for Chinese tourists, with

Why stamp duty could and should be cut

Given that the government is running a £40 billion deficit, is determined to increase spending on infrastructure and will not be facing an election for another five years, no-one should get their hopes up too much for tax cuts in the Budget. Indeed, most of the talk has been of possible rises. But if any tax is going to be cut it is likely to be Stamp Duty on property purchases, at least those made by owner-occupiers at the lower end of the market. No tax has been jacked up quite so much over the past two decades. When Gordon Brown started as Chancellor buyers paid a flat one per