As part of the government’s commitment to “fix” the housing market, many had predicted that today’s budget would include Stamp Duty Land Tax reforms. The budget did not disappoint, introducing reforms for first time buyers, but did it go far enough?

SDLT reforms

  • Today’s budget has abolished stamp duty for first time buyers on properties up to £300,000, raising the current SDLT threshold from £125,000.
  • For those properties up to £500,000, first time buyers will not be charged SDLT on the first £300,000.

Both of these reforms are to be in force from today (as of 0:01 this morning in fact).

Reason to be cheerful?

Many forecasters had hoped that the budget would reverse the 3% surcharge on second homes and buy-to-let properties, introduced in April 2016. This did not happen. However, with reports suggesting that this surcharge has generated £2.6bn since its introduction, it is equally noteworthy that such a lucrative tax has not been increased.

Whilst today’s reforms provide a welcome relief for some first time buyers, they do nothing to assist those already on the property ladder and little to assist those first time buyers looking to join the property ladder in London. With the average house price in London last year at over £600,000, and therefore unaffected by today’s reforms, there is a clear need for further relief to assist a large number of first time buyers and increase the accessibility of the UK housing market.