Stamp duty – Making the cut

A reform of stamp duty could be one of the key announcements in next month’s Budget.

It generates only 1% of UK Government tax revenue, yet rate changes since 2013 have clearly hindered second-hand housing transactions. RMI spend has also been under pressure, impacting volumes at the builders merchants and materials companies. An influential thinktank has recently proposed wholesale cuts to stamp duty rates, which would be of most benefit to the estate agents, builders merchants and the more RMI-focused materials companies. Housebuilders with higher ASPs and/or a London exposure would also see a boost to activity.

Stamp duty stifling housing activity. Stamp duty receipts have doubled since 2011 to £8.4bn, driven by higher house prices and tax rates (on more expensive properties) and the surcharge for investors and second home buyers. The Help to Buy scheme has boosted new build transactions (up by 54% in five years), while second-hand transactions are down by 16% from a recent peak. London and South East housing activity has slowed considerably and had a knock-on effect to RMI activity, with softer demand for a wide range of building products. The Construction Products Association is forecasting a 2% fall in private housing RMI volumes in 2019 following a 1% decline last year.

Change on the horizon? With a Budget and General Election on the horizon, could the new Chancellor announce significant SDLT reforms? The campaigning thinktank, Onward, believes he should and has proposed a complete overhaul of the stamp duty system. In short, it recommends stamp duty should be abolished for all purchases of a main home under £500k and to halve current rates for purchases over the same amount. This would save a purchaser of an average London home c£13k. The estimated cost of the proposed cuts (c£3bn) could be balanced by a number of other small tax changes.

The Peel Hunt Housing, Building Materials & Merchants analysts have looked at which stocks can benefit from a cut to stamp duty. To request the full note email: [email protected]