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Bishops' Stortford estate agent calls for 'transformation at the top' over stamp duty cuts

William Wells, of Mullucks Wells
William Wells, of Mullucks Wells

Bishop's Stortford estate agent Mullucks Wells has criticised the Chancellor for not doing enough to cut Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) for high-priced homes in this week's Budget.

Philip Hammond announced that Stamp Duty would be abolished for first time buyers on properties costing up to £300,000.

But Mullucks Wells residential director William Wells said: “From this announcement, it’s clear that the government is targeting younger, future voters. And whilst I welcome moves to get more people onto the property ladder, the real issue which needs to be addressed is the exorbitant fees at the more expensive end of the market.

“This Budget was an opportunity for fundamental reform of the way property sales are carried out in this country – but sadly it was an opportunity missed. Quite simply, the higher rates of stamp duty are putting people off buying and moving. So a timid approach to the tax is not good enough; what we really need is transformation at the top.

“A better way forward would be to introduce something like a two-year stamp duty moratorium for more expensive properties. If this tactic brought in more money for the Treasury – as every bit of serious research suggests it would – the government could make the scheme permanent.”

However, Mr Wells said that he was pleased to hear about the emphasis given to house-building and construction in the Budget, which could lead to the construction of 300,000 new homes a year.

He added: “We believe government criticism of the building industry related to volume is misguided and unfair. Instead, it’s reform of the planning system which is absolutely essential to getting more homes built. We need to speed-up the process, streamline consents, and fast-track simple extensions.

“However, it is worth remembering that only 20 years ago the top rate of stamp duty in the UK was a mere 1%. As most property moves are discretionary, there is still a danger that buying a new home is something that people will refuse to do if the costs remain eye-wateringly expensive.”

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