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Budget 2017: Kent property sector calls for changes in stamp duty

By Chris Price

The property sector is calling on the Chancellor to make cuts to stamp duty when he delivers his Autumn Budget in parliament tomorrow.

Businesses in Kent say first time buyers need more help, given that the government’s help to buy scheme has led to increases in house prices of around 3% a year.

Philip Hammond has indicated he wants to help tackle Britain’s housing crisis in his Budget, with potential for a stamp duty exemption for first time buyers.

In many towns, even modest terraced houses are beyond the reach of many families
In many towns, even modest terraced houses are beyond the reach of many families

Ben Siggins, director of Ben Siggins Estate Agents in Maidstone, said “this would be a welcome break” for those in the most challenging position when it comes to buying a house.

He said: “The typical first-time buyer house price in Maidstone is currently around £230,000. The stamp duty saving would be £2,100. In Ashford this slightly lower at £220,000 saving £1,900.”

Whitehead Monckton director Marsha Marriner said at the top of her Budget wishlist would be changes to stamp duty land tax - with changes to help buyers of higher-priced properties.

She said: “Given that the property prices in the South East tend to be at the higher end of the spectrum, the band movement at the top end of the scale has not helped the market and, some say, has made it stagnant.

“If there were more flexibility with the banding, particularly at the top end, then you would hope that this stagnation would change allowing more movement across levels.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond

“There are suggestions that there will be stamp duty changes for first-time buyers, let’s hope that there is not a cap.

“Given that ‘new home starts’ are down on average by 30%, if these were to be boosted then, hopefully, it will filter down to the rest of the county.”

Craig Harman, a tax specialist at Perrys Chartered Accountants, which has offices in Strood and Tunbridge Wells, said: “Following the introduction of the help to buy ISA, first time buyers could once again be winners as the Chancellor is expected to announce changes to stamp duty land tax.

“This could include either a reduction in the rate for first time buyers or even a ‘holiday’ period providing a complete exemption for those able to benefit.”

Aside from stamp duty changes, many business owners called for tax cuts.

“The planned 4% rise in business rates could cause financial worries for many small businesses and would not be a welcome change..." - Becky Simms, Reflect Digital

Becky Simms, managing director of Reflect Digital in Maidstone, said: “The planned 4% rise in business rates could cause financial worries for many small businesses and would not be a welcome change.

“Many businesses will have already seen increased costs this year with auto-enrolment for pensions and increased costs across many suppliers, this creates a difficult challenge when trying to grow a profitable business.”

Paul Robinson, managing director at Flex Flooring in Maidstone, said: “The introduction of auto-enrolment pensions obviously has a cost implication for companies like ours who employ tradesmen on a full-time basis and with all the benefits and rights that come with that.

“Any help the government can give on the direct tax of employing individuals and giving them these rights, such as lower National Insurance contributions would help.”

Mr Robinson also called for action on slow payment by big companies to small suppliers.

He said: “The single biggest problem faced by small contractors is payment terms and honouring those terms, from the larger contracting corporations.

“Some of these companies do not pay until at least 60 days, which puts untold pressure on the cash flow of the small business.”

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