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Scottish finance secretary unclear on u-turn over buy-to-let stamp duty

Sunday 13 March 2016

Support against Osborne's crackpot plans to hike up stamp duty has taken a hit north of the border after a new levy was passed by the Scottish Parliament.

Those with second homes will face the new charge which is almost identical to the stamp duty rise of 3 per cent.

But the Scottish Parliament's finance secretary, John Swinney, was about as clear as mud when quizzed about his next move if Osborne's plans are eventually shelved.

He said: "The UK Government is free to change its mind on this question and it may well do so.

"However I have to act on the basis of the legislative scenario that I see opening up in front of me and the need to protect the policy objectives of the Scottish Government."

The proposal was passed without a fight as MSPs voted unanimously in favour at Holyrood.

Known as the Land and Buildings Transactions Tax, it was developed by the Scottish government  and operates in similar bands to the stamp duty, but at a lower rate due to the lower cost of housing than in England.

There had been worries that with Osborne imposing his own tax and without a similar levy in Scotland, it could affect those trying to get their foot on the property ladder.

George Osborne's stamp duty increase has been criticised

The move hardly instils confidence as the clock continues to countdown to George Osborne's stamp duty rise which comes into force on 1st April. 

The pressure on the Chancellor to scrap the proposal has mounted since he first announced the move during last year's Autumn Statement.

Experts claim it could backfire spectacularly, and have the opposite effect on it's purpose - to allow more young people to buy their first homes.

Even the House of Commons Treasury Committee has raised concerns that the move is 'flawed'.


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