Rishi ready to extend stamp duty holiday?
The Lancashire Post's 'Don't Stamp It Out' campaign to have the stamp duty holiday extended beyond March 31 looks set to succeed, according to strong speculation in Westminster.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is reportedly planning to announce a three-month extension to the end of June in his Budget speech on Wednesday.
But, while the property market is excited by the possibility of more time to complete deals caught up in a conveyancing backlog, many experts, including the Building Societies Association, are now urging the Government to adopt a tapered system instead of closing the door with a bang on June 30.
"Extending by three months is simply kicking the can down the road," said David Westgate of the Andrews Property Group. "We will have the same cliff edge scenario in three months time, with buyers desperately rushing to complete sales.
"Conveyancers are already struggling to work their way through the growing pile of cases accumulating on their desks. Extending the deadline to the end of June will simply add a whole lot more cases to the bottom of the pile, and clog up the system."
The stamp duty extension, which helped inflate house prices by 8.5 per cent last year, is one of a number of measures supposedly leaked to the media ahead of the Chancellor's annual statement on Wednesday.
While welcoming the likelihood of more time to complete deals already in the pipeline - thus avoiding the risk of more buyers pulling out and chains collapsing as the cut-off point looms - many now say they would prefer the extension to only include purchases which have already begun.
The fear is that offering a further three months holiday would only add new buyers to the race to beat the deadline, causing even more congestion.
The threat of the March 31 deadline has already seen thousands scrambling to avoid falling over the cliff edge and be hit with stamp duty of up to £15,000 they had not budgeted for.
Solicitors, mortgage lenders, estate agents and conveyancers have all been overwhelmed by a housing boom sparked by the tax relief which began last summer.
Experts say that is likely to continue unless the Chancellor announces a gradual tapering off between March and June.
A three-month extension is likely to cost the Treasury around £1bn in lost stamp duty on top of the £3bn already written off.