Stamp Duty Holiday Extension

There needs to be a better structure in place if the chancellor really is going to extend the Stamp Duty holiday, says Vincents’ Luke Robinson.

News that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is considering extending the SDLT holiday until June is to be welcomed, but needs more refinement if it is to avoid simply pushing problems further down the road.

Luke Robinson, conveyancing solicitor for Vincents’ Fylde Coast team based at Jubilee House in Lytham, was among those to back a campaign by our local newspapers The Gazette in Blackpool and the Lancashire Post, to extend the incentive.

It has clearly proved popular as the firm saw a 50% increase in conveyancing work year-on-year since the holiday was announced in June 2020.

Luke said: “If, as has been reported, the chancellor announces an extension in his budget on March 3rd, that is really great news.

“Any extension of the stamp duty holiday will be most welcomed by purchasers already in the process of buying who are at risk of a massive tax bill if their transaction doesn’t complete by March 31st.

“My concern is that if the extension doesn’t incorporate a run-off period and retains the ‘hard deadline’ scenario, we’ll just be in the same position again in a few months’ time, where buyers who have been motivated to move by the SDLT holiday miss the cut off-and then have to find thousands of pounds which they hadn’t factored into their purchase.

“The scheme needs to be refined with some trigger points built in. So if a sale has reached a certain point by a certain date, it will be guaranteed to benefit from the holiday even if the transaction is delayed beyond the final deadline for any number of reasons.

“We hear it might be a three-month extension which is a really tricky time period. Yes it will allow most existing transactions to complete but, as a transaction takes eight to 12 weeks, it will be really tight to get any new sales through in time.

“This could again see people drawn into starting the process under one set of conditions, but being unable to complete in time and subject to another, more expensive scenario, by the end which is clearly unfair.

“From the market perspective, just shifting the end of the current scheme along a few months, simply pushes the inevitable drop off back.

“What we really need is a longer term, more sustainable incentive to support the housing market but which doesn’t create these massive rises and drops. It’s time for a broader review of Stamp Duty and perhaps a reduction in rates across the board, rather than these short term ‘holidays’.”

Residential conveyancing is one of Vincents biggest departments, with more than 20 staff helping homebuyers across its network of offices in Preston, Lytham, Penwortham, Garstang and Chorley.