MPs battle it out for stamp duty holiday extension

Property Reporter
1st February 2021
Gov 777

“Extend the Stamp Duty Holiday for an additional 6 months after 31st March 2021”, a petition which was started at the end of October, has been thrashed out in an online debate this afternoon after securing enough signatures for it to be considered by the government.

The virtual 90-minute debate, which kicked off at 4.30 pm, saw the Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP, financial secretary to the Treasury, responding for the government after calls were made to extend the current stamp duty break and prevent thousands of property sales from falling through. The latest stats from Rightmove suggest that of the 613,000 already in the sales agreed pipeline, as many as 100,000 could miss out on the tax break and lose savings of around £15k.

Prior to this afternoon's debate, the government and its MPs remained ferociously tight-lipped about the possibility of an extension. A Treasury spokesperson said: “The SDLT holiday was designed to be a temporary relief to stimulate market activity and support jobs that rely on the property market. The government does not plan to extend this temporary relief.”

Despite the government stonewalling any talk about a possible extension, the rumour mill continued to turn with many believing that the scheme would be extended with amendments such as extending to those sold STC.

During the debate, Elliot Colburn MP, a member of the Petitions Committee, suggested several alternatives to the current scheme including resetting the deadline to a new date, exploring the possibility of allowing transactions that begin before the 31st March to be eligible for the scheme, and maintaining the Stamp Duty threshold at £500k permanently.

Sarah Olney, Liberal Democrat MP for Richmond Park, argued that to extend the scheme "just to avoid a cliff edge, would deprive the Treasury of much-needed funds at a time when there are many extremely pressing calls upon our public finances."

Jesse Norman MP, financial secretary to the Treasury, responded for the government saying that he "absolutely understands people's frustration regarding the forthcoming deadline on the stamp duty land tax holiday. But as honourable members well know, I cannot comment on tax policy outside a fiscal event."

Despite increasingly boisterous calls for the Government to modify the deadline so those already moving home can be guaranteed the relief, nothing has changed to date and, as it stands, the scheme will end as planned on March 31st.

All eyes will now surely be on Rishi Sunak ahead of the budget on Wednesday 3 March.

Karen Rodrigues, sales director, eConveyancer, says: “It’s unsurprising that the parliamentary stamp duty debate hasn’t resulted in an extension to the holiday today. Noise from HM Treasury in recent weeks has very much been that the end of March was a hard deadline. This focuses the mind for those who have transactions they want to complete ahead of that date and serves as a timely reminder about the importance of quality conveyancers who understand the importance of excellent customer service and how to use technology to deliver it.”

Mark Hayward, Chief Policy Adviser, Propertymark, comments: “We welcome today’s important debate on the issue of the stamp duty holiday, and are pleased to see that there is clearly cross-party support for a holiday extension or tapered end given the concerning cliff-edge is now only two months away.

“The housing market boom, caused by the stamp duty holiday, has been hugely beneficial; however, the stamp duty cliff edge on the 31st March could cause thousands of sales to fall at the final hurdle and have a knock-on and drastic effect on the housing market which has recovered well from the Covid slump.

“We are continuing to call on the Government to rethink these timings, so pressure on the system can be released to allow transactions to complete and avoid a disorderly and distressing period for movers and businesses throughout the market.”

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