The Treasury’s Shadow chief secretary Philip Hammond accused the Government of being in denial over the fallout from its stamp duty policy.
Hammond says: “The Government’s position on stamp duty is a toxic combination of chaos and denial.
“First the Chancellor refused to rule out a suspension of stamp duty. Then the Treasury denied it was on the table. Then the Housing Minister told the BBC the Government is considering it after all.”
The Tories are claiming that they have evidence from estate agents across the country proving buyers are pulling out as a consequence of the Government’s mixed signals.
Hammond adds: “This continued dithering over a crucial area of tax policy is undermining the housing market and damaging the wider economy. It’s hard to know which has suffered most this week – the Government’s credibility, or confidence in the housing market.”
The Tories are not alone in their call for clarification: the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has also asked for “immediate clarification” of any proposed stamp duty changes.
Barratt homes is using the Chancellor’s indecision as a marketing ploy – the home builder is offering to pay its customer’s stamp duty regardless of any Government plans.
Barratt sales director Sandra Dixon says: “The newspapers have been full of stories saying that the Chancellor may either allow homebuyers to put off paying Stamp Duty or even let them off paying it altogether. But no official announcement has yet been made and it is possible that nothing will change.
“We don’t want our homebuyers to worry about whether they should buy now or wait to see if the Chancellor makes a change to the rules.
“That is why we are offering to pay their Stamp Duty for them. So if you buy a home from Barratt it doesn’t matter what Darling eventually decides.”