In a bold move, MRM’s review of the weekend Money sections bypasses the deluge of last grab tax year-end stories and swings straight to some of the trickier aspects of last week’s Budget – most notably, grey areas surrounding the stamp duty holiday, whether it is in fact warranted and what exactly constitutes a first-time buyer in order to qualify (and before you get in there with a clever quip, it’s not as simple as it first appears).
The Times’ James Charles kicked off the discussion by claiming that the number of first time buyers who will actually benefit from the move has been greatly exaggerated by the government, with the estimated figure of 190,000 being in fact much closer to 135,000. Andrew Ellson’s comment concludes that the tax break won’t work as there simply aren’t enough mortgages available to cover all the first time buyers – and the priority should have been to solve the £300bn mortgage funding gap rather than playing the politics game with stamp duty.
Getting down to the nitty gritty in the Times was Laura Whateley, who explained the abundance of small print in the apparent giveaway. (Don’t know about you but we found it pretty surprising that caravan owners will be exempt from the tax break as they technically own the land beneath their wheels in most instances.)
The Guardian’s Rupert Jones and Patrick Collinson highlighted the difficulties in defining a first-time buyer, with the Council of Mortgage Lenders claiming ‘genuine practical barriers to effective implementation’ and experts agreeing it would have been better to exempt all properties under £250K. Underlying message: do your homework before assuming you’re included.
In other (non-tax related) news – Friday’s RDR announcement was flagged by the Guardian’s Hilary Osborne as a move towards stamping out investment mis-selling. The Independent on Sunday’s Julian Knight however, is not a fan, as in his view 2012 is a long time to wait for the rules on adviser commission to come into effect, and gives ample time for unscrupulous advisers to ‘make hay’, apparently. But what of the bank employees, who have been found by Which? to have ‘recommended complex and potentially unsuitable products without explaining how they work or the risks’, as covered by the Independent on Sunday.
Time to get down to reading the fine print, we think…
And the scores on the board this week were:
Credit cards 2%