Autumn Statement: Stamp duty opportunity missed

National Association of Estate Agents president, Mark Hayward has been outspoken regarding the Government’s Autumn statement last week claiming there was little reassurance that the Coalition has put the problems facing the UK housing market high enough on the political agenda.

He commented: "We had hoped to see an acknowledgement that the stamp duty land tax system isn't working in its current format. In reality, the chancellor's statement was a missed opportunity to make this tax fairer for all. The update on the Scottish government's plans to replace stamp duty with more progressive land and buildings transaction tax (LBTT) announced earlier this week is of interest.

Ensuring the amount of tax paid is more closely related to the value of the property would, in our view, offer a more reasonable alternative. Since the economic downturn took hold, we have repeatedly highlighted the importance of supporting the first-time buyer in particular, to get onto the housing ladder to encourage upward momentum. In order to achieve this and in light of continued bank lending difficulties, we believe similar reform of stamp duty in England and Wales is essential."

The comments come at the same time as the British Chambers of Commerce has revised its growth forecast for 2013 and 2014 downwards in its latest economic forecast.

The BCC believes the economy will grow by 1 per cent during 2013, down from its earlier 1.2 per cent forecast. GDP growth in 2014 has been revised downwards from 2.2 per cent to 1.8 per cent. However, the UK business trade body has upgraded its GDP growth forecast for 2012, the first upward revision taken by the BCC since March 2011. For 2012, the BCC expects the economy to contract by 0.1 per cent, an upward revision from its earlier 0.4 per cent contraction prediction. Lower growth in 2013 and 2014 is attributed to reduced growth globally and the prospect of further austerity measures.