The Northern Research Group, which has the backing of over 50 Conservative MPs in the north of England, wants the Chancellor to consider extending the stamp duty holiday for a further year.
In a letter to Rishi Sunak the NRG - which covers the so-called Red Wall area, where many previously-Labour constituencies were taken by Conservative MPs at the 2019 General Election - makes a raft of demands.
The group warns that families and businesses face a series of cliff edges over the coming months as existing support programmes come to an end.
The NRG says “extensions are necessary to protect families and individuals caught up in the economic fallout from the pandemic” and this includes an extension to the stamp duty holiday as it applies to properties selling for under £500,000.
The call comes as multiple media reports suggest Sunak is considering an extension to the holiday. Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman - regarded as one of the best informed political journalists with multiple contacts in government - wrote yesterday: “Contrary to some reports [Sunak] is considering an extension to stamp duty cuts.”
Shipman says this may be followed in the longer term by more fundamental property tax changes, with one new tax replacing the existing stamp duty and council tax levies.
He added: “Polls show both taxes are unpopular but such a move would be controversial in the Tory shires since those with expensive homes in southern England would be likely to end up paying more.” This may be attractive to ‘Red Wall’ voters.
All eyes are now on the government to set a date for discussion on the stamp duty extension, following the success of an online petition - here - which now has around 110,000 supporters.
In addition to its stamp duty demand, the Northern Research Group MPs also want the Chancellor to announce an extension to the business rates holiday - which benefits many agencies now - and an extension to the the mortgage holiday facility for those on furlough.
Other options the government has been asked to consider include accelerating the relocation of Whitehall departments out of London into non-metropolitan towns, a commitment to fully fund the government’s Town Deals and High Street bids, extending the £20 Universal Credit increase until lockdown is lifted, and a reduction of VAT to five per cent for businesses in the leisure and tourism sector.
Mark Hayward, chief policy advisor at Propertymark, has welcomed the NRG’s stamp duty stance.
“The [housing market] boom, caused by the stamp duty holiday, has been hugely beneficial for the housing market; however, the stamp duty cliff edge on the March 31 could cause thousands of sales to fall at the final hurdle and have a knock on and drastic effect on the housing market which has recovered well from the Covid slump.
“We support the Northern Research Group’s call to the Chancellor to extend the stamp duty cut, and we have been calling on Government for some time to rethink the March 31 deadline, so pressure on the system can be released to allow transactions to complete and avoid a disorderly and distressing period for movers and businesses throughout the market.”