Larry Elliott writes that it would be a mistake to reduce stamp duty in order to stimulate the housing market (Business view, 8 October).
For many years, Mr Elliott and other journalists have chosen to ignore the increase to 12% stamp duty applied by George Osborne to homes costing more than £1.5m. In a not particularly central or glamorous London suburb, houses may be bought for £1.5m to £2.5m which in many parts of the country would cost £600,000 to £800,000.
It can be no coincidence therefore that even before the threat of leaving the EU hit the economy and overseas residents in London started to retreat, the market was already beginning to stagnate in the capital.
The impact of the 12% stamp duty deters retirees from downsizing as obviously the additional tax makes their homes harder to sell. So there are fewer family-sized homes available for first-time buyers. The government would earn more tax if the markets were moving. Currently it’s losers all round.
• On Tuesday the mayor of London launched his first “Homes for Londoners” conference, making clear to home builders that his priority is council, social rented, and other genuinely affordable housing.
The uncomfortable truth is that the London housing crisis will not end until there is a major policy intervention in the UK market in land currently exploited by national and international investors.
That will require landlords, landowners and property developers to submit to regulation and a fair land tax. Churches, as substantial landowners, can provide the ethical leadership needed to encourage those in the commercial and political arena who seek to provide truly affordable housing for all.
Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty