Labour says stamp duty holiday is “a bung for landlords”

13 July 2020 | Renting

Labour has described the stamp duty holiday introduced last week as “a £1.3 billion bung for landlords” because the tax break applies to additional homes as well as owner-occupier properties.

While the additional homes surcharge of three per cent remains in place – so still applied to buy to let and holiday home purchases – Labour is aggrieved that the stamp duty exemption up to £500,000 applies to all buyers, including those investment purchasers and people wanting a vacation property.

Labour wants buy to let landlords excluded and Thangam Debbonaire, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, says: “It is unacceptable that the Chancellor tried to sneak out this huge bung to second home owners and landlords while millions of people are desperate for support. He should be targeting support to those who need it, not helping people invest in buy-to-let properties and holiday homes.

“An unnecessary subsidy for second home-owners will only worsen the housing crisis by reducing the supply of homes overall.

“We need a credible plan from Tory Ministers to build the homes our country needs and get people on to the housing ladder.”

Debbonaire has now written to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick – the full text of her letter is below.

Dear Robert,

I am writing to you after the Chancellor’s financial statement in the Commons yesterday.

Subsequent to the Chancellor’s statement, the Treasury has revealed that the stamp duty changes will also provide a tax break for second homeowners.

The Treasury has confirmed that those looking to buy a second property or buying to let, will only have to pay stamp duty at 3% up to £500,000, rather than the 8% from a quarter a million up.

I’m seeking to clarify why your government is giving such a large tax break to owners of second homes at a time of an acute housing crisis.

If someone bought a second home yesterday for half a million pounds, they would have expected to pay £15,000 more than they would today.

You’ll know that in total, since its introduction in 2016, around 29% of all liable transactions have been subject to the Higher Rate (of Stamp duty) for Additional Dwellings.

The majority (88%) of HRAD transactions are on properties sold for under £500,000.

In 2019/20, 34% of homes bought were second properties meaning this policy could cost the exchequer £1.3 billion. This could fund the immediate gap in local council finances, which the LGA predicts will be £1.2 billion by the end of the year.

At a time when we have an acute local government funding crisis, I question how the Government can justify giving a tax break to people already fortunate enough to own an existing property rather than giving councils the funding they need.

Over a million people are on council waiting lists whilst the number of new social homes has fallen by 80%. This money could be much better spent on truly affordable housing to buy or rent, rather than on a tax break for second homeowners.

The Chancellor had an opportunity to rebuild and invest in truly affordable housing to buy or rent. But he failed to take it. He talked about jobs but did little to address the skills shortage in construction sector.

Please urge the Chancellor reverse his decision to give a tax break to second homeowners. We are calling for clear action in the spirit of constructive engagement.

Yours sincerely,

Thangam Debbonaire

This post has originally been featured in Letting Agent Today.