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Stamp Duty Gag: MPs prevented from debating extension

The government may be stopping MPs debating an extension to the stamp duty holiday - despite a pledge they would do so.

An online petition with some 116,000 signatures calling for an extension has passed the threshold which would normally mean the subject would be considered for a debate.

However it’s been reported that Jacob Rees-Mogg - the leader of the House of Commons - has temporarily suspended the use of Westminster Hall, in which these debates are held.

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As a result all debates scheduled by the Petitions Committee on petitions that have over 100,000 signatures have been postponed.

It's not yet known when they will resume.

Few are likely to be as time critical as the stamp duty debate which would be aimed to pressing the government to extend the SDLT holiday beyond March 31.

You can see the petition still gaining momentum here.

Meanwhile the Law Society of England and Wales is advising conveyancers to be candid with buyers and sellers who desperately want their transactions to be concluded in time for the March 31 deadline.

The society is warning that instructions which are still coming though in high volumes have an “ever slimmer” chance of completion on time.

“Clients’ expectations should be discussed to avoid people losing money and being left disappointed” it cautions.

The society cites analysis by Rightmove this week, which suggests that around 100,000 buyers will miss out on the stamp duty saving.

“While the conveyancing market continues to operate despite the lockdown, it has no doubt complicated the situation further for solicitors who are already overworked and under pressure ahead of the stamp duty relief deadline” says Law Society president David Greene.

“The Law Society has suggested that clients’ expectations of completing before the deadline should be discussed. Solicitors are there to help and can do that by speaking with clients about what they want to do if they cannot complete before March 31.

“Many factors limiting the speed of a move – delays in the issuing of search results, delays in mortgage offers being issued, problems in the chain and with dependent transactions – are usually outside the control of the conveyancer and they cannot guarantee transactions will complete before the end of March.

“The volume of transactions already waiting to go through mean people should not have unrealistic hopes about the prospects of starting a new transaction now and completing before March 31.

“It will simply result in a lot of people wasting money if they only want to buy if they can complete before the deadline."

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    The crucial omission in this article is the reason for suspending debates in Westminster Hall. On the face of it, it stinks of JRM chipping away at our democracy.

    Algarve  Investor

    It wouldn't surprise me. He's transported from the Victorian era and would still have kids up chimneys and down mines if he could.

    A ridiculous parody of a man who shouldn't be anywhere near the position he is, in any right-thinking country. His comments on Grenfell, amongst other things, should have meant he was long ago lost from the public eye.

     
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    I heard there is a virus or something go around, might be wrong, but pretty sure I heard it somewhere - just maybe it has something to do with that rather than an assault on democracy.

     
    Algarve  Investor

    @J Blackmore - they said the other day they would be introducing the Renters' Reform Bill 'very soon'. How soon? Will that be debated? And why can't these debates happen virtually, like much of day-to-day life at present? Is the system really so antiquated that it requires MPs from all over the country to trek into Westminster every time there's a debate, even during a pandemic. Seems so backwards. Also, with the property market still functioning, it seems strange that no discussion be allowed about it. Surely they must have been following the stamp duty petition and its progress?

    There is an argument for closing the market completely, while the pandemic is at its worst and measures at their strictest, but they're not doing that. So seems strange to me to then blame the virus on debates not being held, when surely this could be done remotely?

    JRM was very keen for MPs to make the journey into Westminster not so long ago, by refusing to allow virtual/proxy votes. Now he's changed his tune.

     
  • John Evans

    James they have been put on hold due to covid, JRM is not against democracy, please think of people’s health rather than your own pocket.

    Algarve  Investor

    Sorry, but that's nonsense. Why can't debates take place virtually? This is the 21st century and the technology is in place for it. We've seen it work perfectly well for PMQs and select committees. There is no reason for MPs from across the country to traipse in, they could do it from the comfort of their homes if the government allowed.

    It's the government's choice to keep the housing market open, because they know it's good for the economy, and it's their choice to end the stamp duty holiday with a hard cliff edge. They can't have it both ways. If you're going to keep the market open - which many argue shouldn't be the case - you can't then be surprised when people discuss property issues and the biggest talking point of the day, besides Covid, is the stamp duty holiday.

    And it smacks of ignoring democracy when you refuse to debate an issue which has triggered the threshold of debate and which is important to many people, if indeed the above report is true.

     
    John Evans

    Algarve Investor it's as Matt says - The fact the pipeline is full is proof it's job done. No need to extend. The march deadline always signalled "deals agreed before Christmas"

     
  • edward apostolides

    The whole Cabinet haven't so much as "chipped away" at our democracy James they have put dynamite under it. Over 300 of our laws have been changed and John not one of them have had Parliamentary debate!! This is unprecedented in British history and most have nothing to do with our "health". The governement is ruling over us by decrre, Its lamentable and its clear there is no let up to the lengths and excuses they will go to hang on to this power. They have also postponed the local and by elections again for the 2nd year. Democracy in this country is becoming a dim and distant memory.

  • Daniel Hamilton-Charlton

    Wow. The usual comments I see, omitting to read all the way through and get hung up on the politics rather than the details of transactional challenges.
    Shame that not only are conveyancers under significant pressure to get transactions through, but now they must manage expectations too.

    I saw an estate agents last week still advertising that now was a great time to sell to take advantage of the SDLT relief in an area that takes 54 working days to get Building Regs data from the local authority. 54 working days from today is 6th April and given that, on average, it takes a conveyancer around 6.5 weeks to place an order, there is not a hope in hell. But I'll bet they are banging deals together and getting everyone excited about their move ahead of the deadline, clogging up the system even further and fuelling the flames.

    Putting the democratic debate aside, which does have some validity, these are unprecedented times and things cannot continue as 'normal'. There is much to learn and much for the estate agency community to take on board about how they can package up sales to alleviate the burden on the legal communities. You can either keep throwing it at the wall and hope it sticks or you can glue it up there.
    Get legally Prepared is a phrase that Estate Agents have heard of but very few have done anything about with their clients, yet.

    So for the time being, let's just assume that there will be no extension and that you have to get your pipelines through, what can you do to help, other than shouting at people and apportioning blame?

    Have you delivered a recognised ID/AML report, have you got your vendors to complete all of their legal protocol forms ready for the sale, where vendors have not bought searches are you showing your buyers where to buy them from immediately? If not, why not? All are readily available to buy direct to your clients online 24/7. If deadlines need to be hit, roll up your sleeves, re-educate and help make a difference.

    Help prioritise your pipelines honestly into SDLT critical and not SDLT critical and share that list with the lawyers. Inform the rest of your pipeline that as they are not dependent on SDLT they will, for the moment, have to wait for others who might be penalised significantly. Have the conversations, don't hide from them.
    Every little change in behaviour will help now and help to shape the future of the property market.

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    The fact the pipeline is full is proof it's done it's job. No need to extend. The march deadline always signaled "deals agreed before Christmas"

  • John Evans

    It's all about agents! In its first year 36,000 online petitions were raised. This is one of many.

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    • N W
    • 20 January 2021 13:17 PM

    If you knew the market well enough you would know that one of the biggest issues (even for those that could potentially be able to complete prior to the end of March) is going to be removals........ There are not enough companies out there to deal with the volume (the mini rush before Christmas proved that) and anyone not exchanged by very early March will probably then miss the deadline anyway as they wont be able to complete as they wont be able to book removals....... So there does need to be an amendment to the Stamp Duty rules to allow anyone who has exchanged prior to the end of March to then complete over the following weeks

    Of course there are still come agents out there just telling people it will still be Ok and they are in the main idiots (unless the buyer is cash, no chain, searches already done from a previous recent buyer that puled out, a buyer and seller totally focussed and the same for their respective lawyers - Just agreed a sale on the 28th December, went into solicitors hands on the 4th Jan and we exchanged on the 14th Jan and Completed on the 15th Jan so its possible but only with all of those important box's ticked)

     
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