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Hammond's housing budget

Philip Hammond delivered an upbeat message in his Autumn Budget statement, despite the disappointing news that growth projections for the UK economy have been revised significantly downwards. Perhaps the uncertainties associated with Brexit are now starting to bite, with businesses reining back on investment and expansion.

Home ownership was a key focus and the Chancellor aims to address this on a number of fronts in trying to achieve his very ambitious target of building 300,000 new homes per year by 2025 (a level that has only ever been reached once in the last 45 years – back in 1988). His range of measures will include a focus on “land-banking” by the large national builders together with his flagship tax announcement that first-time buyers will be exempt from Stamp Duty Land Tax where the property costs up to £300,000 (this will save up to £5,000 for a first-time buyer and help them fund their much needed deposit). This flagship measure will also extend to houses that cost up to £500,000 with the Stamp Duty Land Tax exemption applying to the first £300,000 of the purchase price. 

There were very few tax changes for individuals and families, although improvements to the new Universal Credit (eg, reducing the waiting time by one week) were very welcome. One worrying 'devil in the detail' is that the government is having a close look at the Inheritance Tax reliefs associated with businesses and farmland, but hopefully they will decide to leave these as they are and not withdraw them.