Editor’s note: Hopes for answers in Budget box

By Rebekah Commane

Oct 26, 2018

As you read this note, Philip Hammond should be putting the finishing touches to what will be concealed within that famous red briefcase, given he has a tighter deadline than many expected.

The Autumn Budget will be unveiled on a Monday in late October this year, a non-traditional day and month, and something of a surprise given that the chancellor had only recently suggested that the speech could be delayed due to Brexit negotiations.

Perhaps he wants to ‘get it out of the way’ to avoid expectation that any update on plans to leave the EU will be made in the statement.

There has not been much in the way of announcements for the housing market suggested for the Budget to date, but the mortgage industry is full of hope for a cut in stamp duty for downsizers; and for landlords, a reduction in taxes at best, and a halt to any increased costs at worst.

There is no one who can deny that the much-maligned buy-to-let sector has had more than its fair share of blows in the last two years and though it has managed to take a new shape to cope with these, any more tax hikes or lending restrictions could be detrimental.

It could be that this Budget will be a quiet one for the mortgage industry, despite the ongoing need for incentives to get the market moving again and measures to boost housing supply. But it can be argued that what the housing market and the economy as a whole need most is some definitive answers around Brexit to put an end to those stalling on buying and selling.

Theresa May might have distracted us all with her bizarre dance routine at the Tory Party conference and calls for taxes on foreign property buyers – which was met with mixed reactions – but with March fast approaching, the lack of clarity on the biggest topic of the moment for the country is baffling.

What will it be: deal or no deal?

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