Scrapping of HIPs masks Tory u-turn on stamp duty

There has been an almost deafening silence from Grant Shapps and Eric Pickles over the dropping of the Tory manifesto pledge to raise the stamp duty threshold.

Our guest writer is Roy Skates

The Conservatives have made great play today over their plans to scrap home improvement packs (HIPs) – yet there has been an almost deafening silence from housing minister Grant Shapps and communities secretary Eric Pickles over the dropping of the Tory manifesto pledge to raise the stamp duty threshold, which, like their pledge to scrap the Human Rights Act has been kicked into the long grass with another ‘review’.

The Tory manifesto clearly states (page 74) that:

“We will permanently raise the stamp duty threshold to ¬£250,000 for first-time buyers”

While the coalition programme (page 12) merely says:

“We will review the effectiveness of the raising of the stamp duty threshold for first-time buyers.”

On HIPs, shadow housing minister John Healey said the announcement highlighted the limits the “shoddy coalition”‘s lack of concern. He told Left Foot Forward:

“The Tories have talked of little else but HIPs over the past few years, and this announcement merely highlights the limits of their ambition and concern – pleasing estate agents rather than supporting first time buyers.

“And with the Housing Minister no longer sat in Cabinet, we’ve seen quickly how housing is a lower order issue for this shoddy Coalition.”

Yesterday, Radio 4’s “Moneybox live” programme revealed serious concerns among estate agents ahead of the government’s announcement today, and that the market risked stagnating; there was also concern that the government may be overreacting in scrapping HIPs without full consultation.

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