Thousands benefit from stamp duty cut, says Theresa May

For sale signs.
Press Association

More than 16,000 first-time buyers have saved thousands of pounds as a result of stamp duty changes, the government says.

Chancellor Philip Hammond cut stamp duty cut for 95% of first-time buyers, with 80% paying none at all, in his November Budget.

According to the government, the changes mean savings of up to £5,000 for first-time buyers.

But Labour said cutting stamp duty just drives up house prices.

Prime Minister Theresa May is in Wokingham, Berkshire, on Wednesday to meet people who have benefitted from the changes.

Ahead of the visit, Mrs May said: “I have made it my personal mission to build the homes this country needs so we can restore the dream of home ownership for people up and down the UK.

“In the autumn we set out ambitious plans to fix the broken housing market and make sure young people have the same opportunities as their parents’ generation to own their own home.”

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She said the changes have had an “immediate impact”, with thousands of people already making savings and more than a million first-time buyers set to benefit over the next five years.

The Autumn Budget abolished stamp duty for first-time buyers of homes up to £300,000.

For properties costing up to £500,000, no stamp duty will be paid on the first £300,000.

But Labour’s shadow housing secretary John Healey said cutting stamp duty without an increase in affordable housing would drive up prices.

He said: “The number of young home-owners is in free-fall but under the Tories the number of new low-cost homes for first-time buyers has halved and not a single one of the 200,000 ‘starter homes’ promised has been built.

“After almost eight years of Conservative failure on housing, homelessness has doubled, home-ownership has fallen to a 30-year low and the number of new social rented homes is at the lowest level since records began.

“It’s clear Theresa May has no plan to fix the country’s housing crisis.”