A ‘pie-in-the-sky election promise’: that’s the accusation from Altrincham Tory candidate Graham Brady against Labour’s new stamp duty pledge.
Speaking to MM, Mr Brady – who has held the seat for Altrincham and Sale West since 1997 – claimed that the ‘Conservatives have already made stamp duty fairer’, and argued Help to Buy was already helping first-time buyers get onto the housing ladder.
He said: “The first £125,000 is already free of tax and the next £125,000 is taxed at 2%. Previously, the whole value was taxed at whatever rate applied. These changes will have benefitted the vast majority of first-time buyers in Greater Manchester.”
Labour announced yesterday a pledge to give first-time buyers a stamp duty ‘holiday’ on purchases under £300,000, which it says will save them an average of £5,000.
Mr Brady’s Labour rival, James Wright, came out strongly in support of the new pledge.
He told MM: “I think it’s a fantastic policy that shows Labour understands and has a plan to help people struggling to get onto the housing ladder.”
With the average house price in Manchester at just over £150,000, a buyer would pay approximately £3,000 stamp duty (two per cent) under the current system.
According to Joe Myers, a director at Manchester estate agents JP & Brimelow, in his experience problems with stamp duty have ceased since the Coalition reforms.
“It’s not that big an issue anymore,” he said to MM. “It used to be every single day we would be talking about thresholds with people, but since they changed them last year I’ve literally not spoken about it once.”
Mr Brady, who is also chairman of the 1922 Committee, the exclusive group of Tory backbenchers, also used the opportunity to criticise the risks of a weak economy posed to homeowners and buyers by a Labour government.
“Any gain for house buyers would be offset under Labour by higher mortgage rates as markets lost confidence in the management of the UK economy,” he said.
“When people buy homes, any taxes should be reasonable and we all depend on a sound economy to ensure that interest rates are affordable.”
In defence, Mr Wright attacked the Conservatives’ ‘uncosted and unworkable policy of selling off Housing Association homes through Right to Buy in a period where we need more homes available for rent not less’.
“It’s a shame Mr Brady fails to see the benefits of our policy.”
Image courtesy of Mike Serigrapher, with inset from Centre for Policy Studies via YouTube, with thanks