Wed 08 Jul 2020
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has delivered his summer statement to the commons, outlining the government's plans to get UK finances back on a sustainable footing after the impact of Covid-19.
Although employment took centre stage, the chancellor was quick to mention the impact that the pandemic has had on property and housing. Firstly, a new £2bn home insulation scheme, the Green Homes Grant. Under the new scheme, which will be available for homeowners and landlords alike, the government will pay at least two-thirds of the cost of home improvements that save energy.
The Treasury said these grants could help to support more than 100,000 jobs.
The scheme will launch in September, with online applications for recommended energy efficiency measures, along with details of accredited local suppliers.
As expected, the Chancellor then confirmed the widely circulated rumours of a 'stamp duty holiday'.
The new rules will take effect immediately and will see the SDLT threshold raised from £125k to £500k. As reported this morning, those based in the South East stand to benefit the most from this with average savings on a home valued in the £400k-£500k bracket reaching £15k. As a comparison, houses valued around £143k will see a saving of just £370 and the majority of FTBs would see no benefit whatsoever.
As you would expect, the property industry was quick to react. Here's what they're saying:
Mary-Anne Bowring, group managing director at Ringley and creator of automated lettings platform, PlanetRent comments: “This is a vital policy that will make homes greener and cheaper to run and so today's vouchers for home insulation are welcome news.
“The UK’s housing stock is some of the oldest in Europe and this is not just bad for the environment but bad for our health too, with too many properties suffering from problems with damp and cold.
“It is important the government's voucher scheme covers renters, especially as homes in the private rented sector tend to be older.
“Additional financial support to retrofit outdated homes, stamp duty cuts across the board - including landlords - and government pledge to remove all dangerous cladding no matter what the cost would create hundreds if not thousands of jobs, kickstart the housing market and raise the quality of our homes.”
Mark Arnold, CEO, Kensington Mortgages, commented: “If the housing market is working properly, that has a massive impact on the rest of the economy – so this potentially is a big boost. A stamp duty holiday is a huge market change and this has never happened before. First-time buyers, second steppers and older homeowners will all benefit. Even before lockdown, there was a clear stagnation in housing activity on those higher up the property ladder.
“Extending the threshold to £500k frees up larger properties for growing families and enables the next generation of homebuyers to step onto or even up the ladder. Buyers will make a significant tax saving and this acts as a large incentive to keep all parts of the housing cycle moving in some of the most crucial summer months.”
Glynis Frew, chief executive of Hunters Property Plc, comments: “This is excellent news during a challenging time for the market and if implemented immediately as promised, should help to kick-start activity. Without a doubt it will help first-time buyers and we must look after them, they are vital to the market.”
Richard Donnell, Research and Insight Director at Zoopla, had this to say: "The immediate increase in the Stamp Duty threshold will help sustain the rebound in housing market activity across England. The benefits will be immediate; nine of ten transactions in England will no longer be subject to the tax and in London and the South East, home to more expensive properties, homebuyers can save up to £14,999 overnight.
“The Government will expect the change to stimulate more housing sales over the second half of the year and that savings made by buyers will be reinvested in home improvements, white goods and furniture, rather than bidding up the cost of housing."