Nicky Morgan, a former Cabinet minister and now chair of the highly respected Commons' Treasury Select Committee, is the most senior Conservative MP yet to speak up for stamp duty reform.
Morgan has told the Resolution Foundation think tank that she backed reform of the duty to help downsizers in particular. She says this could be part of a package of measures to help older home owners in particular and to aid movement in the wider housing market in general.
"We have got to go back to building housing stock that people are going to move into in later life. In the Midlands [where she is an MP] there is a desperate shortage of bungalows and suitable accommodation for older people" she told the group.
"That is why the [Budget] package for housing needs to be creative and innovative and can absolutely include tax changes but has got to be reflective of the way people live their lives and where they want to live" she added.
Morgan's comments are regarded as influential because she is considered to be a moderate Conservative, on the same pro-EU wing of the party as Chancellor Phillip Hammond, and is thought to be a potential future leadership candidate for her party.
Many commentators suggest Hammond may announce some changes to stamp duty as part of his Budget next Wednesday.
Meanwhile today the Santander bank has released a new report, carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, which reveals the unintended consequences of Stamp Duty Land Tax, and the effect it is having on the UK property market.
- Over the course of a five-year period, an additional 146,000 property transactions would have taken place if Stamp Duty had been removed;
- Over the same time frame, the incentive to build more property would have been higher;
- In the 20 years to the end of 2015, the UK population grew by 12 per cent while the number of households grew by 14 per cent, with one or two person households growing at the fastest rate;
- Property wealth is heavily skewed, with those aged over 55 owning 63 per cent of UK residential property;
- Stamp Duty discourages mutually beneficial transactions and therefore prevents an efficient allocation of housing stock between different sized households, from first time buyers to the elderly;
- It also dampens the growth of the UK’s housing stock, by making it less profitable for developers to build and sell the properties that are much needed to combat the housing shortage; and finally,
- The duty reduces labour market flexibility, potentially reducing the ability to react to changes in economic conditions in different geographies