BUDGET: ‘Stamp duty rate should have lowered’

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CHANCELLOR George Osborne should have considered lowering stamp duty in yesterday’s Budget to make Spalding’s housing market more buoyant.

Town estate agent Russell Gregory said the measures that were announced were “pretty neutral” and did not harm or help South Holland’s property market.

But he said Mr Osborne should have looked at lowering stamp duty on properties priced just above the £250,000 threshold.

Mr Gregory, a partner in Munton and Russell, said: “If you buy a property for £250,000 you pay £2,500, but if you buy one for a penny over that you pay £7,500.”

Mr Osborne failed to impress with his failure to help first-time buyers and lower income families by stopping the stamp duty holiday ending on Saturday.

Wendy Evans-Scott, president of the National Association of Estate Agents, said: “Stamp duty distorts the housing market and hits first time buyers the hardest. It is a tax on aspiration.”

South Holland wage-earners are among the 24million nationwide looking forward to jam tomorrow when personal income tax allowance goes up by £1,100 to £9,205 in April 2013.

The Government claims the move will make people better off by £220 a year.

But just about all of the price hikes announced yesterday came into effect straight away.

Although drinkers appeared to be let off lightly, CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) say measures already in place will add five to ten pence to a pint of beer.

Beer price rises are based on inflation plus two per cent, known as the “beer duty escalator”, and that hasn’t changed.

CAMRA chief executive Mike Benner said: “The tax man’s whirlwind hikes translate to him guzzling a third of every pint served.”

Spalding licensee Pete Williams, from the Punchbowl in New Road, said: “I think they have just overtaxed it from the year dot really. They are still getting 60p in every pint and then all the tax that’s already on beer.

“Beer costs nothing to manufacture. It’s just all the taxes that are on it.”

Smokers were hit by a hefty 37p rise on a packet of 20 cigarettes and that came into force yesterday teatime. Duty on all tobacco products went up by five per cent.