Stamp Duty reform, but nothing for renters

George Osborne's final Autumn Statement before the General Election has been trailed across the media since Sunday, including announcements about housebuilding as part of the National Infrastructure Plan. A lot of this - including the garden city in Bicester - is fairly old news, but it's interesting that the government is planning to get directly involved in building houses - 10,000 of them just outside Cambridge.

The Treasury might want to use this as an opportunity to try out Generation Rent's proposed model of a bubble-free housing market - we estimate that it would cost £1bn to build 10,000 homes, sell them at little over cost-price and plough the proceeds into another 10,000 home project. Those new houses would be shielded from any above-inflation price rises.

When it came to the Statement itself, earlier this afternoon, Osborne had very little to offer those who want cheaper housing. His big announcement, which is bound to dominate tomorrow's front pages, was the reform of stamp duty.

To be fair, the system was in need of reform and the new measures make it fairer for those buying houses above the £250,000 threshold – and also ensure that those buying £1.5m+ houses give a larger slice to the public purse.

While reform was needed, there is still a danger that it could simply push up prices as sellers realise that buyers now have an extra few thousand to add to their deposit.

And for those of us who are a long, long way from a deposit of our own, there was nothing. Renters will continue to stretch themselves to keep a roof over their heads and may find themselves paying even higher rents as stamp duty reform spurs buy-to-let landlords into acquiring more properties.


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