Following on from the Budget earlier this week, here are Sarah's views on the property-related announcements.
The Lifetime ISA is a welcome scheme that will help to encourage first time buyers to save by providing them with attractive financial incentives to do so.
However, what I'd also like to see the Government doing is implementing other, additional measures to hold down property prices somewhat to allow for wages to catch up with average house prices, further helping first time buyers. I'm not saying a housing crash would be a good thing at all, but more measures that are likely to help create a slight slowdown – such as the recently announced increases to buy-to-let stamp duty – that would enable people to enter and move up through the market more easily would definitely be positive.
Buy-to-let stamp duty
The new stamp duty rate increase for buy-to-let investors is definitely coming in and I think it will help to slow price rises at the entry end of the market, which is great news for first-time buyers. I don't think hitting buy-to-let landlords is unreasonable as helping to correct the market shouldn't be at the expense of the tax payer, so I fully support the rise in stamp duty on investment properties.
Insurance Premium Tax rises
I feel like the rise in Insurance Premium Tax is a bit sneaky and quite underhand, particularly as it has already recently been increased. It's only a small rise, but on top of the 3.5% rise that came into effect last November, it's going to affect people already struggling to juggle costs and will make 'essential' outgoings even more expensive. I also think that by increasing insurance tax, and thus costs, it may put some people off buying home insurance policies, which is a dangerous gamble. Home insurance is an essential product that protects what is most people's most valuable asset and the Government shouldn't be making it more expensive for people.