The Stamp Duty Holiday started last Summer 2020 and ends on March 31st, 2021, this abrupt end date is influencing the legal process side of house purchases. Alexander Stennings, Vintage Financial Planning Mortgage Adviser discusses this topical issue. And explores what the pros and cons of scrapping this tax are for the housing market, the wider economy and what the future holds for this tax. He will look at who is and is not affected and what if anything they can do.

Stamp duty is a term you have probably heard before. Officially called the Stamp Duty Land Tax. It is seen by some as a progressive tax by others see as a hinderance to the housing market and a government stealth tax. In the summer of last year, the government decided to scrap Stamp Duty on any property purchases of up to £500K. This decision certainly showed how the pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives.

What happened?

The UK was just coming out of the first lockdown, the whole economy had been on a freeze and the government saw a way to encourage some economy growth was to spur on the housing market. With a view that this would then lead to a knock-on effect on other parts of the economy and would help the UK recover what had been its sharpest decline of GDP for almost 300 years by a staggering 10.4% in the first months through to April[1]. Therefore, one of the Government measures was to scrap the Stamp Duty in order to stimulate the housing market.

Pros

Short term the initial relief certainly helped in creating a boom in the housing market, particularly for those home movers who for long time felt it was not worth moving to upgrade to newer properties given the extra stamp duty in place. However, with these restrictions gone many felt they could move and upgrade, you may have been one of them, working from home and needing that extra space.

Cons

However, is this creating a bubble by pushing house prices even further up, out of the reach of first-time buyers which is so crucial for the long sustainability of the housing market.? Or even sustainable in the long term? This give away is costing the Treasury £3.8bn every year, given that we as a country will are borrowing at a rate that is not sustainable in the long term[2]. We are going to be looking at ways to dig ourselves out of this and pay back the billions we have borrowed. Surely a form of Stamp duty will have to be part of this conversation. 

Who has & has not been affected and how?

Solicitors are particularly struggling given the high demand and staff shortages exasperated by the pandemic which has created a backlog. Under the current rules any completion of a mortgage post 1st April must pay stamp duty. This means that potentially any offer on property now is unlikely to be completed by March 31st. However, those looking to re-mortgage or get a further advance are not impacted by the stamp duty changes as they never had to pay stamp duty in the first place.

When will it end?

Although currently the stamp duty is due to end March 31st though there is a budget beforehand at the beginning of the March so the government may choose to extend it or bring in another scheme.

We at Vintage can help navigate through these challenging times and ensure you get the best advice that suits you. Why not contact us on 01732471070 or email us at enquiries@vintagefinancialplanning.co.uk?


[1] GDP quarterly national accounts, UK – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)

[2] Britain’s housing market sees post-lockdown mini-boom | Real estate | The Guardian