As the Chancellor sat down having delivered his first budget we are all left worse off than when he stood up. If only the weather had been able to have a similar effect on his afternoon as it did in cancelling the second day of the Cheltenham Festival.
The Government will take over £10bn from home owners this year – the majority from sellers who are bravely trying to pick their way through the debris left by Alistair Darlings’ mismanagement of Northern Rock. Property now provides more revenue than ever before as the Treasury seeks to bridge the £5-10bn gap that is reported to have developed between the tax take and what the Government has pledged to spend.
Inheritance tax charged when a property passes from one generation to the next last year generated over £4 billion. Stamp duty on the purchase of homes raised another £4.6bn in 2007 with 82% more being squeezed from first time buyers alone who on average paid over £1,700 each. The new stream lined Capital Gains tax which applied to buy-to-let landlords and smaller developers will raise more as of course will the new Development Land Tax levied on the builders of new homes before a house has even been built!
Perhaps most galling is the VAT charged on Home Information Packs this year which are required for all homes marketed and not just those that are sold. This is expected to be over £100m which can be added to the Tax charged on estate agency fees (£450m) legal costs, removal fees and home improvements (which total another £500m)
The Chancellors’ efforts to encourage lenders to offer long-term fixed rate mortgages looks like it will require yet more red tape and regulation to ‘force’ Banks to offer these sorts of products. It is worth remembering that despite the drops in interest rates from the Bank of England the Chancellor has not been able to get Banks to join in and it is hard to find lenders who have passed this on for new borrowers. Can you see this William Heath Robinson idea working?
Many will feel that the Chancellor has mugged home owners and has missed the opportunity that this budget provided to recognise the pressures that they are under. As the market slows, property values fall and people find that it is harder to re-mortgage many will blame the Chancellor and his predecessor Gordon Brown for the amount they take, their stewardship of the economy and then 25 million households may well feel motivated to vote them out at the next general election.