ONE of Scotland's leading housebuilders has called for stamp duty to be devolved to the Scottish Government to help get the housing market moving again, it emerged last night.
Tweed Homes, an award-winning construction firm based in Peebles, submitted evidence to Holyrood's rural affairs committee for its investigation into rural housing.
The company said stamp duty – which is paid by buyers on any land and property purchases over 125,000 – should be controlled by the Scottish Government, not by Westminster.
Tweed Homes argued that, as house prices and household incomes are generally lower in Scotland than in most parts of the UK, Scottish homebuyers should not be expected to pay the same level of tax as their counterparts in England.
In its submission, the housebuilder stated: "In an economic downturn, the levy of stamp duty particularly for the purchase of affordable housing is an obstacle even for households earning modest incomes.
"The devolvement of stamp duty would allow the Scottish Government the opportunity to implement and monitor more appropriate and fairer levels of stamp duty."
The intervention of the construction firm comes just days after Stewart Maxwell, the housing minister, called for different mortgages for Scottish housebuyers because of the different market conditions north of the border. Mr Maxwell called on banks to treat Scots more favourably than housebuyers elsewhere in the UK because the Scottish housing market was more resilient. The minister said he hoped this might mean a relaxation of the strict loan criteria for buyers in Scotland.
SNP MSP Roseanna Cunningham applauded Tweed Homes for the idea. She said: "Scotland's distinct housing market and the different income and affordability levels in Scotland make the devolution of stamp duty a common sense proposal.
"The ability to set conditions for the Scottish market according to Scotland's needs rather than have stamp duty based on levels of income and affordability in England would allow the Scottish Government to adjust stamp duty to meet Scotland's concerns."
And new Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott said: "This is a really important debate. By devolving stamp duty to the Scottish Parliament, you tackle the problem which Tweed Homes have highlighted."