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Homes hope dashed

Forbes rejects calls for LBTT relief extension

For sale, sold, homes, housing, property

Tax relief on home buying will end (pic: Terry Murden)

Scotland’s Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has rejected calls to follow the Chancellor and extend tax relief to home buyers.

Ms Forbes has been under pressure for some weeks since it was first revealed that Rishi Sunak was likely to extend the stamp duty holiday in England and Northern Ireland which was due to end on 31 March.

He confirmed in his Budget that it would remain in place until the end of June, with a “tapered” period running until September.

Property agents in Scotland have been calling for Ms Forbes to do the same, but today she confirmed that the relief on land and buildings transaction tax – the equivalent to stamp duty – will be withdrawn at the end of this month for most home buyers.

She said: “We will stick to [the] original plan, that was set out clearly. It was intended to support the recovery of the residential property market this financial year, that has been achieved.”

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She added, “The nil rate band was already lower in Scotland, and yet we have seen record high levels of transactions and house purchases, so it has achieved its purpose.

“But, ultimately, when it comes to tax policy, I have choices. The number one ask from business was to extend the 100% relief on non-domestic rates, that’s what I have done alongside freezing council tax to help households in need so those are our choices in taxation.”

She pointed out that business rates are suspended for the whole of the next financial year, as opposed to Mr Sunak’s plan to extend the suspension to the end of June.

Scottish Conservative shadow finance secretary Murdo Fraser said: “Homebuyers in other parts of the UK are being given a very welcome helping hand during these challenging times.

“Yet the SNP have decided not to give the same support to buyers in Scotland, despite receiving over £10billion in additional pandemic funding from the UK Government.

“This is a mistake, and the SNP finance secretary needs to think again. The consequences of this will be that many families in Scotland will be unable to move home.

“This also risks causing stagnation in the housing market at a time when we need to focus on reviving and rebuilding Scotland’s economy.”

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