The Chancellor announced in his first Spring Statement today that the stamp duty relief he introduced in the Autumn Budget 2017 has benefitted an estimated 60,000 first-time buyers. The relief works by abolishing stamp duty for first-time buyers of homes with a market value of under £300,000 and charging 5% SDLT on the remainder up to £500,000. For properties valued over £500,000 there is no relief. 

Home ownership can be a divisive issue, but most agree that more must be done to enable hard working young people to gain a foothold on the housing ladder. With this in mind, it is encouraging that the Chancellor’s policy has gone some way to relieving pressure on first time buyers. In November, the Treasury estimated that the policy would help over one million first-time buyers over the next five years and it looks like they are on track to achieve this. However, the policy has come under considerable criticism over the last few months.

One particular issue that seems to have been overlooked by the government is the impact on shared ownership and shared equity schemes -initiatives that help individuals reach their goals of home ownership. These buyers may not benefit from the SDLT reform as the threshold for the relief is based on the full value of the property, and not just the portion that is being acquired. Housing associations have lobbied the government on this issue and it is disappointing that the Chancellor did not take the opportunity to address this anomaly in his statement today.