All 3 contributions to the Stamp Duty Land Tax (Temporary Relief) Act 2023 (Ministerial Extracts Only)

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Tue 10th Jan 2023
Stamp Duty Land Tax (Reduction) Bill
Commons Chamber

Committee stage: Committee of the whole House
Wed 18th Jan 2023
Stamp Duty Land Tax (Temporary Relief) Bill
Lords Chamber

2nd reading & 3rd reading & Committee negatived

Stamp Duty Land Tax (Reduction) Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

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2nd reading
Monday 24th October 2022

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Stamp Duty Land Tax (Temporary Relief) Act 2023 Read Hansard Text Watch Debate

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the Stamp Duty Land Tax (Temporary Relief) Act 2023 passage through Parliament.

In 1993, the House of Lords Pepper vs. Hart decision provided that statements made by Government Ministers may be taken as illustrative of legislative intent as to the interpretation of law.

This extract highlights statements made by Government Ministers along with contextual remarks by other members. The full debate can be read here

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Felicity Buchan Portrait The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Felicity Buchan)
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I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

We face challenging times, and challenging decisions need to be made, but one thing on which I hope we can all agree is that home ownership must remain within reach, and we must support the property market where we can. To do that, we are making good our promise to ensure that hard work is rewarded and people can keep more of their hard-earned money when they buy a home.

The property industry plays a hugely important role in our economy. It is crucial to our growth prospects, and it supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and businesses. Home ownership remains one of the surest ways to give people a stake in the success of our economy, and we know that stamp duty really affects people’s decisions on whether to buy a property. The Bill confirms a significant reduction in the cost of moving home and getting on the housing ladder, which will allow more people to buy and to move each year. It will also mean more business for painters, decorators, moving companies, plumbers, electricians, and all the industries that are reliant on a healthy housing market. More transactions each year will mean that more people can move more easily to find work, and that will boost labour mobility at a time when people do not need barriers to changing jobs.

Like many Members on both sides of the House, I grew up in a country where home ownership was a dream, but an achievable one. It is only right that we give those who are now seeking to climb on to the housing ladder a helping hand, so that this dream does not slip out of reach. Since 2010, we have helped more than 800,000 households to purchase homes through Government-backed schemes such as Help to Buy and Right to Buy, and we have made sure that stamp duty land tax works for those who wish to get on to and up the property ladder.

First, in April 2016, we introduced the higher rates of stamp duty for those purchasing additional properties, which form part of the Government’s commitment to first-time buyers. These rates are 3% above standard residential stamp duty rates. The following year, in the 2017 autumn Budget, we introduced first-time buyer relief to permanently increase the price at which first-time buyers start paying stamp duty. The Government are proud that nearly 700,000 purchases have benefited from this relief since its introduction. Because of our action, the annual number of first-time buyers is at a 20-year high.

However, this is not just about how we help people purchase within the existing stock of housing; we are also boosting investment in home building and affordable housing. In 2019-20, nearly 243,000 net additional dwellings were delivered—the largest number in almost 20 years—and the Government are on track to meet their commitment to deliver 1 million additional homes during the current Parliament. In the 2021 spending review, we also announced £11.5 billion for the affordable homes programme to build 180,000 more of the affordable, quality homes that the country needs, including tens of thousands for social rent.

The Government’s cuts in stamp duty land tax were implemented on 23 September with immediate effect, and we have introduced the Bill to confirm that change. Stamp duty applies to purchases of property or land in England and Northern Ireland, with land transaction taxes devolved to Scotland and Wales. Devolved Administrations will receive Barnett consequentials for that change, in the usual way. The Bill will increase the nil rate threshold, which is the level at which stamp duty starts to apply. It will double the threshold at which people start paying stamp duty from £125,000 to £250,000, saving a family purchasing an averagely priced home £2,500.

As I mentioned a moment ago, in 2017 the Government introduced first-time buyer relief, which applied a higher nil rate threshold for purchasers who had never previously owned a property as part of our commitment to supporting first-time buyers. The Bill will expand the generosity of that relief to ensure that those purchasing their first home pay no stamp duty on purchases up to £425,000, up from £300,000. The maximum purchase value for which first-time buyers can claim the relief has also been increased, from £500,000 to £625,000.

These cuts in stamp duty will mean that an estimated 43% of transactions each year will attract no stamp duty whatsoever, up from 25% before the introduction of the Bill. No one purchasing a second home or investing in a buy-to-let property will cease paying stamp duty, as the 3% surcharge on the purchase of additional dwellings will continue to apply. More than half all transactions in the east midlands, the north-west and Yorkshire and the Humber will attract no stamp duty at all, with about six in ten transactions in the north-east having no stamp duty liability.

We are lifting significant numbers of families, first-time buyers and home movers out of stamp duty, helping those aspiring to own their own home. That means that a couple buying an average home in the east midlands worth about £248,000 would otherwise have paid nearly £2,500 in stamp duty, but will now pay nothing at all. This measure will directly help people to keep more of their hard-earned money. An estimated 90% of those claiming first-time buyer relief will now be lifted out of stamp duty entirely. First-time buyers are able to access up to £8,750 in relief following the Government’s changes.

I should make it clear that these changes apply to stamp duty land tax, which covers only England and Northern Ireland, but they also mean—through the usual block grant adjustment—an additional £100 million for the devolved Administrations in Scotland and Wales.

The United Kingdom has always been a nation of homeowners, and under our plans it will continue to be so. We are cutting stamp duty for hard-working people and supporting them in getting on to and up the housing ladder. The Bill will reduce the up-front costs of moving, it will support the hundreds of thousands of jobs reliant on a healthy property market and it will help give people who aspire to home ownership the means to make it a reality. For those reasons, I commend the Bill to the House.

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Richard Fuller Portrait The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Richard Fuller)
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I thank Members for their contributions to the debate. At its start, my hon. Friend the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury set out the critical importance of the Bill and the Government’s cut to stamp duty land tax. The Bill is important to home movers and to first-time buyers; it is important for jobs and businesses connected to the property industry; and it is important for our economic growth. Stamp duty land tax at high levels can reduce a household’s willingness to move. This tax cut will enable more people to move home each year, which will, in turn, boost economic growth through the businesses and jobs the property industry supports.

The Labour Opposition spokesman, the hon. Member for Ealing North (James Murray), made points about the cost of mortgages due to recent economic uncertainty and interest rate rises. I just point out to him that interest rates and mortgage rates have been rising since last autumn in response to global trends, including Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, and the UK is not immune to these trends. Crucially, interest rates are not solely rising in the UK; the US Federal Reserve has been raising its base rate since March 2022.

Karl Turner Portrait Karl Turner (Kingston upon Hull East) (Lab)
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I just want to be clear: how sure is the Minister that the new Prime Minister is not going to overturn this stamp duty stuff?

Richard Fuller Portrait Richard Fuller
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I am more sure of that than I am that I will be in my position tomorrow. This is a serious debate and an important point about mortgage rates has been made. I am just trying to point out the two issues: rates have been rising since autumn; and this is a global change in interest rates.

Our stamp duty cuts will help the situation by reducing the up-front costs of moving. This Bill will save a family moving into an average home in England £2,500. As the Exchequer Secretary mentioned, we are returning money that can be spent to help cover moving costs, improvements, new furniture or appliances.

The Opposition spokesman asked questions about the processing of the Bill, but he missed the fact, of course, that the stamp duty change is already in effect and the Government are continuing with the legislation. The right hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) made some good points about house building. I just point out to him that in 2019-20 almost 243,000 net additional dwellings were delivered, which was the highest amount in nearly 20 years; and that at the spending review 2020-21 the Government confirmed £11.5 billion of funding for the affordable homes programme from 2021-22, which is the largest cash investment in affordable housing for a decade and is providing up to 180,000 new homes across England.

The hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron) repeated the points he made earlier about issues to do with purchasing additional property. I just repeat that the Government’s stamp duty cut will ensure that about 43% of purchases each year will pay no SDLT whatever and that none of those will be purchases of second homes or buy to lets.

The hon. Member for Hampstead and Kilburn (Tulip Siddiq), in closing for the Opposition, said that the Government somehow seem to be encouraging foreign buyers and she talked about introducing a charge for foreign buyers. I just remind her that there is already a 2% charge for non-residents on SDLT.

Let me conclude by reminding this House of what this Bill is all about. It will mean that about 43% of transactions—

John McDonnell Portrait John McDonnell
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Will the Minister look at the issue of the 100% offset that incorporated landlords now have against profits?

Richard Fuller Portrait Richard Fuller
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Of course I am happy to look at all suggestions, including the one the right hon. Gentleman has made.

This measure will mean that around 43% of transactions each year pay no stamp duty whatever, which will help to support the housing market. I say to both Opposition spokesmen—the hon. Members for Ealing North and for Hampstead and Kilburn—that as result of this measure first-time buyers in their constituencies who would not have qualified for zero stamp duty will now qualify, and Labour will today be voting against that. I would also say to the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden) and the hon. Member for Leeds West (Rachel Reeves), the shadow Chancellor, who are not in their places, that the average mover buying the average house in their constituencies would not have qualified for zero-rate stamp duty land tax before this measure, and Labour will again be voting against that tax cut today.

This measure will boost labour mobility, support hundreds of thousands of jobs and businesses, increase transactions to boost the property industry, and continue the Government’s record of supporting people, including younger people, into home ownership. For those reasons, I commend the Bill to the House.

Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

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19:50

Division 70

Ayes: 288

Noes: 152

Bill read a Second time.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (Reduction) Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the Stamp Duty Land Tax (Temporary Relief) Act 2023 passage through Parliament.

In 1993, the House of Lords Pepper vs. Hart decision provided that statements made by Government Ministers may be taken as illustrative of legislative intent as to the interpretation of law.

This extract highlights statements made by Government Ministers along with contextual remarks by other members. The full debate can be read here

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

2.38 pm
Victoria Atkins Portrait The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Victoria Atkins)
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I beg to move amendment 1, page 1, line 2, leave out subsection (1) and insert—

“(1) This section makes modifications of Part 4 of the Finance Act 2003 in relation to any land transaction the effective date of which falls in the period (“the temporary relief period”)—

(a) beginning with 23 September 2022, and

(b) ending with 31 March 2025.”

This amendment provides that the relief from Stamp Duty Land Tax provided for by the Bill is only to apply until 31 March 2025.

Roger Gale Portrait The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Sir Roger Gale)
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With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment (a) to amendment 1, after “transaction” insert

“(except in relation to additional dwellings)”.

This amendment is intended to remove the relief from stamp duty land tax for second homes (see Amendment 15 to leave out subsection (3)).

Amendment (b) to amendment 1, leave out “31 March 2025” and insert “31 March 2028”.

This amendment is intended to extend the temporary relief from Stamp Duty Land Tax so that it expires at or around the time as the frozen thresholds for Income Tax, Inheritance Tax and National Insurance are due to expire.

Government amendments 2 and 3.

Amendment 15, page 1, line 13, leave out subsection (3).

This amendment is intended to remove the relief from stamp duty land tax for second homes (see Amendment (a) to Gov 1).

Government amendments 4 to 12.

Clause stand part.

Government amendment 13.

Clause 2 stand part.

New clause 1—Comparison of temporary and permanent relief

“(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, within three months of this Act receiving Royal Assent, publish an assessment of the change in Government policy on stamp duty land from—

(a) the Plan for Growth published on 23 September 2022, to

(b) the Autumn Statement published on 17 November 2022.

(2) This review must include—

(a) an assessment of the costs of implementing the change in policy referred to in subsection (1) for the Government, the property industry, and homebuyers;

(b) an assessment of any wider costs and impacts of the change in policy referred to in subsection (1) on the housing market; and

(c) what measures the Government is planning to ease the impact on tax revenues, home purchases and the housing market of the reduction in stamp duty land tax coming to an abrupt end on 31 March 2025.”

This new clause would require the Government to publish a review of the change in Government policy to make the relief in this Bill temporary instead of permanent.

New clause 2—Review: first-home buyers

“The Chancellor of the Exchequer must conduct a twice-yearly review of the impact of this Act on the number of people buying their first home and must publish a report of this review at six-month intervals.”

This new clause is to ensure that a regular report is made on the impact of the proposed Act on the number of people buying their first home.

New clause 3—Review: second homes in National Parks and Areas of Natural Beauty

“The Chancellor of the Exchequer must publish an annual report on the impact of this Act on the number of second homes in National Parks and Areas of Natural Beauty.”

This new clause would require that an annual report is published on the impact of the Bill on the number of second or subsequent homes in National Parks and Areas of Natural Beauty.

New clause 4—Review: house prices in rural areas

“The Chancellor of the Exchequer must publish an annual review of the impact of this Act on house prices in rural areas.”

This new clause would require that an annual review is published on the impact of the Bill on house prices in rural areas.

New clause 6—Review: availability of affordable housing and the private rented sector

“The Chancellor of the Exchequer must conduct an assessment into, and publish a report on, the impact of this Act on the housing market, including (1) the impact on the availability of affordable housing and (2) the private rented sector.”

This new clause would require the Chancellor of the Exchequer to conduct an assessment into the impact of the Bill on the housing market, including the availability of affordable housing and the private rented sector.

New clause 7—Report on effect of temporary relief

“(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, three months before expiry of the temporary relief period, publish an assessment of the impacts of the temporary relief provided by this Act.

(2) This assessment must include an assessment of the impacts on—

(a) the volume and value of housing transactions on the housing market,

(b) any wider costs for the Government, property industry, housing market and/or homebuyers, and

(c) tax revenues.

(3) The assessment must make a recommendation as to whether the temporary relief period should expire or whether the House of Commons should consult on extending it or making it permanent.”

This new clause would require the Government to publish an assessment of the impacts of the temporary tax relief and a recommendation before the temporary relief period comes to an end.

Government amendment 14.

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Roger.

At the autumn statement, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor set out set out how the Government are dealing with the global economic challenges that we face. The consequences of Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and the covid-19 pandemic mean that we must be fiscally responsible while supporting the economy and encouraging our businesses to grow and our constituents to thrive. We need a balanced approach to support our objectives, which includes helping people get on to and move up the housing ladder—and indeed to downsize.

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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It is very soon, but because it is my right hon. Friend, I will certainly give way.

Desmond Swayne Portrait Sir Desmond Swayne
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My hon. Friend is most generous and kind. Those of us who voted with enthusiasm for the Bill’s Second Reading on the grounds that there was to be a permanent change for the benefit of those people wanting to get on to the housing ladder are somewhat discomfited by the fact that Government amendment 1 will make it merely a temporary measure to assist those who want to do so. We want them to be permanently assisted. Can she reassure me?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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I very much understand why my right hon. Friend raises that point. I know he took a great interest in the autumn statement and listened carefully to the submissions and oration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, my right hon. Friend the Member for South West Surrey (Jeremy Hunt). We had to take some difficult decisions in the course of the autumn statement to ensure that our approach to the economy is fiscally responsible. This is one way in which we hope to stimulate the housing market in the next two years in the difficult economic circumstances we find, but thereafter we are confident that the economy will improve and we will be able to return to the status quo as it was before 23 September. However, the broader picture about reducing the taxation burden on our constituents still stands. Indeed, I hope my right hon. Friend listened with great interest to the Prime Minister’s speech last week in which he made it clear that that is our ultimate goal.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
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On 17 October, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer told this House that this particular element of the mini-Budget relating to stamp duty land tax would be retained. It was on that basis that the Bill was introduced in the House. It was only a month later that we had the autumn statement when the Chancellor of the Exchequer went back on what had been said earlier.

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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Again, my hon. Friend puts his finger on the point as to the very, very fast-moving economic conditions we have faced in the last few months. He will recall the autumn statement and the great detail the Chancellor went into in terms of ensuring that our approach is fiscally responsible. We had to acknowledge and react to the conditions as we found them then. We are confident that the sunset clause in the Bill will enable us to support our constituents. Indeed, it is happening at this very moment in time, because, of course, we brought in the measures as soon as possible immediately after the original announcement. They are helping, for example, first-time buyers get on to the housing ladder.

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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I will take one more intervention, and then make a little progress.

Barry Gardiner Portrait Barry Gardiner
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I am very grateful to the Minister. I listened carefully to what she was saying about global economic circumstances, in particular Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the effect that that has had on people in this country through their energy bills. She will know that the Government set a target for a 78% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. To achieve that, will she consider looking at whether stamp duty might be raised up or put down in accordance with the energy performance certificate ratings of properties, perhaps providing a way for households to benefit financially but ensure that they meet the Government’s target?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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That is an interesting suggestion. At first blush, my mind goes immediately to the complexity of such a scheme, particularly given our proudly antique housing stock—certainly in my constituency, with beautiful farmhouses and market town high streets that are many, many hundreds of years old. I therefore think it unlikely—I will be honest with the hon. Gentleman—but he is always welcome to write to me. I will make this point: the Government’s very real progress over the last decade, on drastically cutting our carbon emissions, with the help of industry, homeowners and members of the public, should be acknowledged. Dare I say it, if it is not unparalleled across the world, we are certainly in the top few. What is more, we have tried, through measures such as VAT zero rating on energy-saving materials, to encourage homeowners and others to plug gaps and make their homes more energy efficient. So, I do not think stamp duty is the way to help, but certainly the Government have already put in place measures to try to help us meet our very, very ambitious climate targets.

The last few years have, frankly, been tough on us all and we want to help people take that next step in their lives to buy a new home. The Bill cuts stamp duty land tax for first-time buyers and other homeowners to reduce the upfront cost of moving home. It is because we want to help people as quickly as possible that the rates are already in force, helping our constituents.

The provisions in the Bill apply only to purchases of residential property in England and Northern Ireland, as land transaction taxes have been devolved to Scotland and Wales.

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Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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This is precisely why the Government are so committed to levelling up. Although I know how beautiful my hon. Friend’s constituency is, having had the pleasure of visiting it, in my beautiful corner of England, we do not, sadly, have the transport links that other constituencies have. It is precisely this drive for levelling up, which I know Conservative Members are united on, which may help with some of the issues he sets out so eloquently.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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I am grateful to the Minister for that intervention. It comes down to how we define, “levelling up”. The point I am trying to make is that, if somebody is buying an average house in Christchurch, or in her constituency of Louth and Horncastle, it should not make any difference in terms of taxation whether the house is going to cost £405,000 or £200,000. Why should the person buying a house in Christchurch who wants to become a teacher or an NHS employee in the area not only have the burden of having the higher house price—she has referred to some of those issues—but have to pay £10,000 in SDLT for the privilege of moving into the Christchurch constituency to purchase an average-priced house? I do not see any justice in that at all. In levelling up, we should be putting those two categories of person on the same level when it comes to their liability for paying transaction taxes.

My hon. Friend the Member for South Thanet made the suggestion, which I have also made, that we should scrap SDLT. If we want to have a transaction tax, we should introduce one based on, for example, the size of a property, because that would be neutral; it would really be levelling up across the country. Obviously, it would be more popular with some people than with others, but it would certainly be very popular with my constituents and it would meet the criterion of levelling up.

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Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con)
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When this Bill was previously before the House, on 24 October last year—indeed, on the day we last changed Prime Minister, so it was under a different Treasury Minister—I asked the Treasury to analyse the potential harms caused by excessive second home ownership and holiday lets. I thank the Minister for her ongoing engagement on this issue, as well as the rest of the Treasury team. I have spoken to them on numerous occasions about the many complex taxation issues causing an imbalance in our housing market in constituencies such as mine, which I hope we can take steps to address in the coming months.

We know that when stamp duty was last reduced post pandemic, it generated a surge in short-term holiday lets and second home purchases. Indeed, 25% of purchases in my North Devon constituency during that period attracted the higher rate of stamp duty as an additional dwelling. However, we have no information on what proportion might have been long-term buy-to-let landlords. Alongside the many challenges in our North Devon housing market, we have seen a 67% decline in private rentals, with a surge in section 21s enabling landlords to take advantage of the tax inequalities between long and short-term rentals.

We desperately need to find a way to encourage buy-to-let landlords. The complexity of paying the 3% levy for an additional dwelling is, in many ways, a distraction from a Bill designed to help first-time buyers in particular on to the housing ladder. The removal of stamp duty saves thousands for anyone buying their first home—up to £425,000 at this time. When the numbers are fully analysed, in this legislation the maximum benefit to somebody buying an additional dwelling is just £2,500. We need to be just a bit realistic about whether that will be a large enough sum to motivate a change in behaviour in people who are buying additional properties—their second, third or fourth home.

For more than two years now, I have stood up in this House and asked for steps to be taken to tackle the housing crisis in North Devon. The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill has now been amended to reflect the concerns of constituencies such as mine. Indeed, it is good to see Conservative-run councils in Devon and Cornwall taking steps to adopt measures in that Bill to double council tax on second homeowners. It is disappointing that Lib Dem-run North Devon Council has not taken such steps, but I remain optimistic that it will.

I very much hope that the paper I have submitted to the Treasury on behalf of Conservative colleagues—it includes many suggested changes to the tax system to tackle the imbalances between long and short-term rentals, and to continue making it easier for local families to buy and rent in places where they grew up or where there are huge numbers of job vacancies for them—will pave the way to looking more closely into the matter. I hope that the Treasury team’s door will remain open to MPs to meet and tackle this issue.

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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May I place on the record my personal appreciation of the intensive work that my hon. Friend has put into this issue on behalf of her constituents and the wider south-west? Many south-western MPs are concerned about this issue, including—dare I say it—hon. Members from the Whips Office, who cannot stand up and speak. I am extremely alive to the issues that she raises. I wonder whether she would do me the favour of coming to see me at the Treasury over the coming months so that we can discuss further the issues in her constituency and the interesting ideas she has put forward.

Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby
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Nothing would give me more pleasure than to go back and speak with the Minister about these matters. We all worry about why the NHS is struggling to recruit. I can quite definitively tell people here today that the public sector struggles to recruit in North Devon because of the housing crisis.

We on the Conservative Benches are keen to tackle this issue. Yesterday’s cross-party drop-in session was hugely helpful. We heard from the officials behind the legislation, as well as from the Minister. It is just a shame that Opposition Members did not turn up—not one of them. They have tabled a number of amendments to the Bill, but do we really need to put reviews into legislation? One cannot help but wonder whether such amendments are politically motivated rather than aimed at delivering real change to constituencies that urgently need their housing markets to be rebalanced.

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On the amendments about reviews, I do not think it is the purpose of legislation generally to tell the Government to do reviews, which is what the Opposition spend an awful lot of time doing. If the Opposition want to get the Government to do things like reviews, they should win an election.
Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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It is a pleasure to rise after the stirring final sentence of my hon. Friend the Member for South Cambridgeshire (Anthony Browne). I thank Members around the Chamber for a really interesting and constructive discussion that has sometimes veered, dare I say it, into almost a philosophical debate about the very existence of stamp duty, markets, supply and demand and principles of economics. It has been a fascinating debate, and I thank all Members, particularly my hon. Friends the Members for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope), for South Thanet (Craig Mackinlay) and for South Cambridgeshire, for putting forward their long-considered thinking on this particular tax. In the interests of frankness, I have to manage expectations and say at the Dispatch Box that we have no plans to abolish stamp duty land tax, precisely because it raises billions of pounds a year, but I suspect that will not stop my hon. Friends.

My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch asked a specific question about a flat rate of 1%. I had hoped to be able to answer it in this debate, but I am not able to, so I undertake to write to him. He and others across the Committee raised the very important issue of housing supply. This affects affordability in all our constituencies, including areas that have popular tourist destinations such as the constituencies of the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron) and my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch, and also city centres. That is why, as part of our work over the last 12 years, since spring 2010 more than 800 households have been helped to purchase a home through Government-backed schemes including Help to Buy and the right to buy. We operate a range of relevant schemes that make home ownership more affordable, including the lifetime ISA, and those are important precisely for the reason that has been argued so cogently by Members: the housing market has at times raced ahead of local incomes and affordability.

Colleagues across the House raised the issue of building new properties, which has been a subject of debate when considering other pieces of legislation before the House. I hope Members will be pleased to hear that in 2019-20, almost 243,000 additional dwellings were delivered—that is a net figure—which was the highest in nearly 30 years, and the Government are on track to meet their commitment to deliver 1 million additional homes across this Parliament. Colleagues also raised the very important issue of the supply of new affordable housing, which is a priority for the Government. In the spending review of 2021, we confirmed £11.5 billion of funding for the affordable homes programme from 2021-22, which is the largest cash investment in affordable housing for a decade, providing up to 180,000 new homes across England.

My hon. Friend the Member for South Thanet brought his expertise as a chartered accountant into the Chamber; he is on another matter of House business and apologises for not being able to be here now. He raised the issue of retirement downsizing. The point I will make—and I hope to repeat it to him in person—is that the measures set out in the Bill will also help those who are looking to downsize. If someone is moving from a property in, say, the second tranche of tax down to one that is zero-rated, they of course will be able to benefit from that. It will reduce the stamp duty charge for movers by up to £2,500.

My hon. Friend the Member for South Cambridgeshire came up with a great many ideas, which I know he will continue to raise with me through his chairmanship of the Conservative Back-Bench Treasury committee. I take his point about other taxes being involved in the average purchase of a home, such as, we hope, when people are able to buy furniture and make the changes we all want to make when we purchase our next home. I hope that measures such as the energy-saving materials VAT exemption will help in some of those instances. However, I appreciate his point about the lever that stamp duty can apply.

Before I move on to the Opposition amendment, I want to reiterate that the Bill as it stands will mean that 43% of transactions—our constituents buying their homes—will not involve stamp duty. It will also mean that 98% of first-time buyers in several regions will pay no stamp duty. Again, I hope that addresses some of the issues raised.

The hon. Member for Erith and Thamesmead (Abena Oppong-Asare) urges us to support Opposition amendment (a). To put it into context, there were about 1,025,000 residential transactions in the year 2020-21, of which around 237,000 related to additional property transactions, which includes not just second homes but buy-to-let properties. I will come in a moment to the significance of the rental market in this debate. As my hon. Friend the Member for North Devon (Selaine Saxby) set out so starkly, there are real issues in the housing and rental markets in particular parts of the country, and we want a national tax to help across England and Northern Ireland.

The Opposition amendment would remove purchases of additional property from the scope of the Bill and the temporary cut to stamp duty land tax, which we argue would have an impact on rental supply and, in turn, tenants. Through the 3% surcharge in the Bill, we are ensuring that those who purchase additional homes—in other words, both landlords and those purchasing second homes—will still pay stamp duty. Those buyers are not exempt from stamp duty; they will all continue to pay stamp duty, because the 3% surcharge will continue to apply to all of them. As I described, a sliver of properties within the £125,000 to £250,000 price range are affected. Even with that sliver, the maximum saving possible for those purchasing additional properties is £2,500.

I want to put this amendment into the context of the private rental sector. The 4.4 million households in the rental sector remain a vital part of the housing market. Renting is the long-term housing reality for many. While we would very much like renting to be a stepping stone to people buying their own homes, we have to understand that, in certain parts of the country, the markets are so hot that for many people, including those people we would love to encourage to be first-time buyers, renting their home is the reality. We must therefore ensure that the measures we take do not imperil or endanger that market, particularly when households are struggling with the cost of living. Further constraints on rental supply will mean higher costs for tenants. My hon. Friend the Member for North Devon set out the significant impact on and decline in the long-term rental market in her constituency. We understand from Zoopla data that rental prices in the country increased in August by nearly 12% year on year. We argue that accepting this amendment would make that situation worse.

We understand the impact of second homes on some of our most popular tourist destinations, such as the south-west. In fact, we are taking practical measures to address that.

Through the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill, we are setting a new council tax premium on second homes of up to 100% and strengthening the existing premium on empty homes of up to 300%. That means that someone with a second home could face an additional council tax bill of nearly £4,000.

Tim Farron Portrait Tim Farron
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To follow up on that, is it not right to say that people who have second homes pay additional council tax only if those homes are empty and unfurnished, so a very small percentage of those who have second homes will be affected? Does the Minister understand the evidence that the 2020 stamp duty cut fuelled a second home boom? On that basis, why has she done nothing to listen to rural communities such as mine about that and to mitigate it in some way by accepting my amendment or that of the Opposition?

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
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If I have understood the hon. Gentleman correctly, he has misunderstood the measures in the Bill, which introduces a premium on second homes of up to 100% and a strengthening of the existing premium on empty homes. I appreciate his point about empty homes, if people are moving or returning to their second homes, but that is not the scenario everywhere—indeed, in my constituency, I can think of examples where that is not the case. We are trying to use practical measures so that local communities can decide how to deal with it through council tax.

I was talking about complexity. We want to ensure that the system is as simple as possible for taxpayers, which is why we have the consistency of rate bands between the standard rate and the rate for additional dwellings.

Amendment (b), which was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch, seeks to extend the period from 31 March 2025 to 31 March 2028. It is important that the Government maintain a commitment to fiscal responsibility and that requires difficult decisions, as I have set out. The Chancellor was clear about that in the autumn statement, and I hope that the ministerial team have been clear about that when we have spoken at the Dispatch Box. The Government will continue to take difficult decisions to get the public finances on a sound footing and to get debt falling in the medium term.

We therefore announced that the stamp duty cut will end in March 2025 as part of that commitment. It will remain in place until then to support the property market through what we all acknowledge are difficult times. We believe that we have struck the right balance between ensuring support for the jobs and businesses associated with the housing market and the Exchequer cost.

The remaining amendments tabled by hon. Members on both sides of the Committee refer to reports and reviews, if I may summarise them in that way. As my hon. Friend the Member for South Cambridgeshire reiterated, it is a fundamental principle that we are loth to include reporting and reviewing requirements in primary legislation. In any event, we do not believe it to be necessary, because the Government already publish a wealth of data on those matters. For example, HMRC publishes data on property transactions and stamp duty land tax receipts, including data on the use of first-time buyers’ relief. To help hon. Members to understand what that means for our constituents who are first-time buyers, the Bill will mean that they can access up to £8,750 in relief. It is a great shame that Opposition Members propose to vote against that relief.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities also publishes the English housing survey. Data on property prices, including at a local level, is published through the Land Registry. The Government published a summary of the measure’s impacts, including on the Exchequer, in November’s autumn statement. I hope that hon. Members who have asked for that data and those reviews will look at that wealth of information and draw their own conclusions.

I thank hon. Members for this debate, which I very much welcome, but I commend the Bill to the Committee. I particularly commend the Government amendments to enable first-time buyers in our constituencies to get on to the housing ladder, and to help other constituents move up the housing ladder and continue to thrive in our country in the next couple of years.

Nigel Evans Portrait The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr Nigel Evans)
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Before I put the Question, I should just say that I am anticipating three votes: two in Committee and one on Third Reading. The first vote will last for 10 minutes and the two subsequent ones will last for eight minutes each, so if I were you I really would not go anywhere after voting in the first Division.

Amendment proposed to amendment 1: (a), after “transaction” insert

“(except in relation to additional dwellings)”.—(Abena Oppong-Asare.)

This amendment is intended to remove the relief from stamp duty land tax for second homes (see Amendment 15 to leave out subsection (3)).

Question put, That the amendment be made.

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16:20

Division 133

Ayes: 184

Noes: 311

Amendment 1 agreed to.
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16:36

Division 134

Ayes: 14

Noes: 310

--- Later in debate ---
16:50

Division 135

Ayes: 308

Noes: 170

Bill read the Third time and passed.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (Temporary Relief) Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
2nd reading & 3rd reading & Committee negatived
Wednesday 18th January 2023

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Stamp Duty Land Tax (Temporary Relief) Act 2023 Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Amendment Paper: Committee of the whole House Amendments as at 10 January 2023 - (10 Jan 2023)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the Stamp Duty Land Tax (Temporary Relief) Act 2023 passage through Parliament.

In 1993, the House of Lords Pepper vs. Hart decision provided that statements made by Government Ministers may be taken as illustrative of legislative intent as to the interpretation of law.

This extract highlights statements made by Government Ministers along with contextual remarks by other members. The full debate can be read here

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Moved by
Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn
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That the Bill be now read a second time.

Baroness Penn Portrait The Parliamentary Secretary, HM Treasury (Baroness Penn) (Con)
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My Lords, the aim of the Bill before us today is to support the property market and reduce costs for first-time buyers and home movers during a difficult period for the economy. The Government have a long commitment to supporting home ownership. Since 2010, we have helped more than 800,000 households purchase a home through government-backed schemes such as Help to Buy and the right to buy. We have made sure that the UK is building the high-quality homes that we need. In 2019-20, more than 242,000 homes were built, the highest number of net additional homes in 30 years, but we need to do more, and remain committed to the 300,000 new homes target. We have invested in the affordable homes programme, with an £11.5 billion commitment through this Parliament leading to 180,000 affordable homes, including thousands for social rent. We have removed the housing revenue account cap for local authorities to support them to build more social homes. This Government also supported social renters at the Autumn Statement by limiting social rent increases to 7% in 2023-24, saving the average social renter £200 next year, and we remain committed to abolishing Section 21 evictions.

However, the tax system needs to work for those looking to get on to or move up the housing ladder, and the Government have previously made changes to support their objectives on home ownership and the property market. Stamp duty land tax must work for all. In April 2016, the Government introduced higher rates of stamp duty for purchases of additional dwellings and recognised the impact that buy-to-let investors and purchasers of second homes were having on the ability of first-time buyers to get on the housing ladder. The following year, in the Autumn Budget 2017, the Government permanently introduced first-time buyers’ relief. This increased the threshold before which those buying their first home started paying stamp duty to £300,000. It was under this Government that first-time buyers gained a permanent comparative advantage over other purchasers, and this relief has supported almost 700,000 purchases since its introduction.

The Stamp Duty Land Tax (Temporary Relief) Bill builds upon this context. First, it will increase the nil-rate threshold for stamp duty land tax for all purchases from £125,000 to £250,000 until 31 March 2025. Secondly, it will increase the nil-rate threshold for first-time buyers from £300,000 to £425,000. A first-time buyer couple in the south-east buying an average new-build property worth £490,000 will see their bill reduced from £9,500 to £3,250—a saving of £6,250 which they can put towards their deposit or new furniture. Thirdly, the Bill will raise the maximum purchase value for first-time buyers’ relief from £500,000 to £625,000, something which will help those in places where affordability problems are most acute. Together, these measures mean that around 43% of all purchasers will pay no stamp duty whatever.

As part of this Government’s commitment to fiscal responsibility and to getting debt falling in the medium term, these changes to stamp duty will end on 31 March 2025. The tax cut will remain in place until then to support the property market through difficult times and to continue our support for first-time buyers. Hundreds of thousands of jobs and businesses rely on the property market, and the Government are committed to supporting them with these measures.

The stamp duty cuts will mean that more than half of all transactions in the east Midlands, the north-west, and Yorkshire and the Humber will pay no stamp duty until 31 March 2025, with six in 10 transactions in the north-east having no SDLT liability. A pensioner in the east Midlands downsizing to an average-priced semi-detached house worth around £230,000 will now save £2,100 in stamp duty costs. They will pay nothing because of the Government’s actions.

The Government are lifting families, home movers and first-time buyers out of stamp duty and continuing their record of support for home ownership. They are supporting the market and ensuring that this support remains responsible. This is a significant reduction in the cost of moving home for many in the country and will make getting on the ladder far easier.

Importantly, while it is right that people should be free to invest in or buy a second home, the Government believe it is right that those buyers pay higher rates of stamp duty. The higher rates for additional dwellings introduced in 2016 apply three percentage points above standard residential rates of stamp duty. This 3% surcharge will remain in place. It is important to note that no one purchasing an additional property will be taken out of paying stamp duty.

To conclude, the Government believe that stability is the bedrock on which we build growth. The Bill is a fiscally responsible way to support the property market through challenging times and open up the dream of home ownership to more people, to give them a stake in the success of the British economy. Some 90% of those claiming first-time buyers’ relief will no longer pay any stamp duty until 31 March 2025—a significant and meaningful addition to the Government’s record on home ownership. For those reasons, I beg to move.

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Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords for their contributions to this short debate on the Bill today. In particular I thank my noble friend Lord Greenhalgh as the only Back-Bench speaker in the debate. My noble friend asked a number of questions. First, he talked about the need for mobility in the housing market. That is something I agree with him on. That can be delivered in a number of ways. Having better and more suitable homes for people to downsize to is one element of it; supporting Build to Rent and having longer-term tenancies is another. My noble friend is far more of an expert in these areas than I am.

While we support mobility overall, and there are a number of government measures aiming to do that—stamp duty is part of it—we have to balance action in that area against the fact that it is also an important source of government revenue. We think the action we have taken in this Bill strikes the right balance, providing temporary support during a difficult time for the economy, in particular the housing market as we see higher interest rates, with the need for fiscal responsibility too.

We made some other reforms to stamp duty. For example, in 2014 there was the move from slab to slice. This aimed to improve the fairness and efficiency of the tax system, as each new SDLT rate is payable only on the portion of the property value falling within each band. That removes some of the cliff edges from the system.

My noble friend also spoke about the higher property values in London meaning that it disproportionately contributes in terms of stamp duty land tax, and I acknowledge that. In the temporary reforms we have put in place, increasing the threshold at which you can claim first-time buyers’ relief helps first-time buyers in the capital facing those higher rates.

My noble friend also asked a specific question about shared ownership. First-time buyers’ relief is available on shared ownership purchases. Relief would then not be available on subsequent purchases. However, where someone intends to staircase up the shared ownership ladder, the option is available to them to pay 100% of the stamp duty up front and therefore claim the first-time buyers’ relief and not pay it again as they staircase up. I think that is a useful element of the system.

Turning to some of the points made by the Chartered Institute of Taxation and raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, the Government are aware of those points and the ones raised by the Stamp Taxes Practitioners Group, which relate to the technical detail of the existing first-time buyers’ relief legislation. We have asked officials in HMRC and the Treasury to work with those groups to discuss their comments.

More broadly, both the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, and the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, made points about mortgage costs, interest rates and housing supply in general. As a Government, we are doing everything we can to hold increases in mortgage rates down as much as possible, in so far as we have an influence on them through our actions. That is why we have taken very strong steps to demonstrate Government’s commitment to fiscal balance and sound money. There is a longer-term trend of interest rates and mortgage rates rising since last autumn in response to global trends, including the illegal invasion of Ukraine. Interest rates are not rising solely in the UK; the US Federal Reserve has been raising its base rate since March 2022. The pricing of mortgage products is a commercial decision for lenders, and interest rate decisions are taken by the independent Bank of England.

On the noble Baroness’s and the noble Lord’s point about where there are existing mortgage borrowers who may now move on to higher rates, we have more resilience built into the system through the affordability assessments, but the Financial Conduct Authority regulations are already also very clear on the requirement that firms must deal fairly with customers and consider a variety of tailored forbearance options, including measures such as a payment holiday, partial payment or an extension of mortgage terms. Before Christmas, the Chancellor met with, I think, the regulator and banks to discuss the issue around higher mortgage rates and customers who may fall into difficulty as a result.

More broadly on housing, yes, we must do more to build more homes; that has been a consistent theme throughout this Government’s tenure. We have been doing more to build more homes: as I said in my opening speech, the figure for 2019-20 of 243,000 net additional dwellings was the highest in nearly 30 years, but we have a target of 300,000 and need to do more. I talked in my opening speech about some of the measures we took. Other areas are on SME housebuilders, which are an indispensable part of the housebuilding sector, and we have put in place a range of financial measures to support SMEs and to encourage systemic change in the lending environment, including over £2 billion of development finance under the home building fund, which will deliver approximately 60,000 new homes, and the £1 billion ENABLE Build guarantee scheme. I will not go into further detail on what the Government are doing to support further housebuilding, suffice it to say that we are committed in that area and that it will take a number of different initiatives to deliver it.

The noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, also raised the issue of second homes. We have the additional rate of stamp duty for people to pay on any additional homes they buy. We think that that is right, in recognition of some of the issues that she raised, but we also need to be cognisant of the impact that that has—or may have had—on the buy-to-let market and on the availability and affordability of homes to rent. We think that that was the right measure and that it has struck the right balance. We are also taking action in the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill with the new 100% council tax premium on second homes and by strengthening the existing premium on empty homes.

To conclude, there is a lot to do to support home ownership and housebuilding more generally. We need to support more mobility in the market, as my noble friend pointed out, and the measures before us will support those wishing to buy or to move home in the current economic climate and the housing sector more widely. That is balanced against the need to ensure fiscal responsibility and to acknowledge that stamp duty is a source of revenue for the Government. We have struck the right balance in the measures, so I beg to move.

Bill read a second time. Committee negatived. Standing Order 44 having been dispensed with, the Bill was read a third time and passed.