Controversy is growing over the government’s surprise consultation period for its proposal to levy a three per cent stamp duty surcharge on second homes from April 1.
On Monday this week - a Bank Holiday between Christmas and New Year, when just about all of the agency industry was on a break - the government revealed its formal consultation on its proposals, originally outlined by Chancellor George Osborne in late November.
Here is the report on Estate Agent Today when we broke the news on Monday morning.
However, within the document there is a reference (in section 2.1) to the consultation beginning on December 15. Yet the document was not released to the public until December 28.
This left a maximum of 24 working days for comment - considerably shorter than usual and, presumably, shorter than originally envisaged by the government. The original date would have given an additional seven working days for comment.
Some commentators believe the original December 15 date, erroneously left in the consultation document, was scrapped in order to see what the Scottish Government announced in its own separate Budget, which took place on December 16.
In fact, the ruling Scottish National Party followed the Osborne announcement to the letter.
On Twitter some commentators referred to the December 28 launch of the document as the government “sneaking out” the consultation.
One comment on EAT’s original story on Monday - from chartered surveyor David Porter - pointed out that on the document itself, an annex stated that consultations of this kind normally take 12 weeks, so it is effectively breaching its own rule on seeking responses.