Scots decision-makers call for mirroring of stamp duty cut in Scotland

Pressure is being put on the Scottish Government to match a boost to the property sector in England and Northern Ireland, to avoid a two-tier market emerging.

It is feared that a two-tier market could emerge. Picture: JPI Media.
It is feared that a two-tier market could emerge. Picture: JPI Media.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday unveiled a raising of the stamp duty threshold – to £500,000 from £125,000 – to prevent a slump in the market in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown.

He said: "The average stamp duty bill will fall by £4,500. And nearly nine out of ten people buying a main home this year will pay no stamp duty at all."

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But Edinburgh-based property-management firm Apropos believes there must be a comparable reduction in the Scottish equivalent – Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT), introduced in 2015 – to avoid a market collapse.

Joint MD David Alexander said there is already a tax discrepancy between Scotland and the rest of the UK. He added: “A strong, viable, property market is essential to ensure the economy rebounds in the coming year.

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“Scotland must be able to compete equally across the UK in the future growth of the economy and I hope the Scottish Government responds quickly and effectively to unify the property tax levies. They must act to ensure Scotland emerges from this period of economic uncertainty as strong as their counterparts in the rest of the UK.”

His comments were echoed by Struan Douglas, director of Edinburgh-based solicitors and estate agency Purdie & Co, who said: “It will be worrying if the chancellor’s generous tax giveaways aimed at one part of the UK is not replicated north of the Border to allow the Scottish market to follow suit. The market in Scotland is entirely different from London and the south-east.”

Also calling for such a realigning to help Scotland was Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, who said it would “stimulate the Scottish housing market and play an important role in protecting and creating jobs in the construction industry and the supply chain”.

She added: “The Scottish Government must also take the baton and enable plans to decarbonise Scotland’s housing stock to ensure we meet net-zero ambitions.”

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