Comment: Why stamp duty reform isn’t enough for many first-time buyers

The budget didn't bring the huge savings many first-time buyers were hoping for

The budget didn't bring the huge savings many first-time buyers were hoping for - Credit: Getty Images

Stamp duty grabbed the headlines this week, with the news that first-time buyers would no longer have to pay tax on properties worth up to £300,000.

Chancellor Philip Hammond also said those in “very high-price areas like London” would avoid stamp duty on the first £300,000 of properties priced up to half a million.

While this all sounds great in theory, the reality is a lot less joyous.

Essentially, Mr Hammond’s changes result in a saving of £5,000 for anyone buying a half a million pound home – good news for someone that’s all set to buy, but of little consequence to anyone still facing years of saving to get on the property ladder.

Tom Kibasi of the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) pointed out that “unaffordable house prices are the problem, not stamp duty. For most young people, the stamp duty cut will make little difference. But it will help the beneficiaries of the bank of mum and dad.”

Alan Brown, Chief Executive of CALA Homes wasn’t happy at all, accusing the Chancellor of being “misguided” for focusing on first-time buyers as they “already have Help to Buy, did they really need this as well?”

Many would argue an angry ‘yes’ to that.

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Mr Brown’s subsequent point about the focus on first-time buyers potentially exacerbating the issues further up the housing chain “with a significant dearth of quality, three-five bed housing available to second and third time buyers” is a sound one, however.

We’re all struggling, basically. Though I do feel first-time buyers have it hardest, particularly in this pricey part of the world, where those without parental assistance or a huge salary have an even bigger mountain to climb.

Here’s hoping the criticism received by the Chancellor - reported to be the second richest serving MP, with a net worth in excess of £8m - spurs him on to do more.