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Stamp Duty: no change imminent, predicts Communities Secretary

Anyone hoping that the General Election could herald an immediate change of heart by the Conservatives on high levels of stamp duty levied on more expensive properties may be disappointed by comments from Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.

He told a meeting of the House of Commons’ Communities and Local Government Committee this week - held after Theresa May and MPs agreed to hold a June 8 General Election - that the segment of stamp duty most upsetting some in the property industry applied only to a small number of homes at the very top end of the market.

One committee member, the former housing minister and Conservative MP Mark Prisk - a one-time employee of Knight Frank - said he was told by current estate agents that their stock was at an all-time low and many suggested stamp duty was unhelpful in terms of encouraging transactions.

However, Javid was unmoved by the suggestion.

"My focus has been on people on average incomes trying to buy an average home. There is obviously a link between the top end of the market and the bottom end ... and, as with any tax change, in time, it's important to keep it under review. But it’s not a decision for this department” he told Prisk and other MPs on the committee.

The purpose of the meeting was to examine Javid’s department’s Housing White Paper, released earlier this year; the Communities Secretary reiterated his belief that a situation such as today’s, where the ratio of average house prices to average household income was approaching a record high of 8.0, meant that we were in ‘a broken market’.

Referring to the General Election, Javid told committee members that “anything we say today is as representatives of the current government and anything a future government does may change.”

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