Budget round-up: mortgages

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a Tory sympathiser, but it was hard to see a crack in the chancellor’s smile as he rattled through a series of upbeat, upward revisions of growth and downward revisions in the deficit and public sector borrowing.

It will be interesting to see if, in a pretty blatant “elect me” plea, a surplus can actually be achieved by 2018/19.

The big announcements were reserved for savers, with some pretty stunning changes to Isas, with the allowance raised and the ability to merge cash and shares. There were also changes to pensions, which resulted in all tax restrictions on pensioners’ access to their pension pots being removed, ending the requirement to buy an annuity.

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But what of the housing market? Were we finally going to see a much-rumoured change in stamp duty? Perhaps a new 2 per cent rate band or even the holy grail of a complete overhaul to charge the tax like income tax, and end the much-maligned “slab” effect? Were we heck!

Nada, nothing, not even a glimmer of hope and another opportunity ebbed away into the Osborneosphere.

However, there was one change to stamp duty; perhaps a further smack in the face to some Russian investors. Anyone now purchasing a property that is more than £500,000 in any kind of corporate wrapper is subject to stamp duty at 15 per cent. Wham!

Actually, I have no issue with this. Yes, it may upset people but in London anything that helps put more available property in front of people who are actually going to live in the property rather than leave it empty most of the time is a good thing.

However, it should be noted that for many the reason to buy a property in this way is for anonymity rather than tax efficiency, so for those people 15 per cent is probably a fair price to pay.

Then we have the already released extension of the Help To Buy 1 Scheme. Unlike its ugly sister, HTB2, this has more immediate merits of helping housebuilders actually build, safe in the knowledge that the end consumer will be able to get hold of funds to actually buy their stock.

It was always the harder of the two to end suddenly and its extension should help more homes to be built and delay the end problem for another day.

In summary, as the famous Downing Street Cat tweeted: “good news for bingo-loving, beer-drinking pensioners. Or Conservative voters, as they’re otherwise known.”