More than 180,500 first time buyers have benefited from stamp duty exemption

More than 180,500 first time buyers in Britain have saved a total of £426 million through the stamp duty relief programme introduced a year ago, official figures show.

The money saving tax relief, known as First Time Buyers Relief (FTBR), was introduced on 22 November 2017 extended in last month’s Budget to those purchasing through approved shared ownership schemes who choose to pay stamp duty in stages, rather than on the market value of the property.

This has been retrospectively applied to eligible property transactions since last November with figures published by HMRC confirming it too is likely to be popular.

‘These statistics show that the Government was right to offer a helping hand to first time buyers,’ said Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

‘Without this investment, more than 180,500 new home owners may have struggled to get onto the property ladder. Maintaining the status quo was not an option,’ Stride added.

The tax relief can be used when buying a residential property where the purchase price is no more than £500,000 in England and Northern Ireland, as long as the purchaser does not own any other properties and intends to use it as their main residence.

The relief was claimed in more than 58,800 transactions between July and September this year, an increase of 12% compared to the previous quarter.

But Kevin Roberts, director of the Legal & General Mortgage Club, pointed out that stamp duty is still a financial barrier to those higher up the housing ladder, particularly for growing families looking to upsize or last time buyers looking to downsize.

‘The changes in the Chancellor’s recent Budget were certainly welcome, with stamp duty relief extended to shared ownership properties. However, if we are to create a housing market that is accessible to all, we must do more for older homeowners by extending the stamp duty exemption,’ he said.

‘After all, encouraging movement higher up the ladder allows properties further down the ladder to be freed up, which could help lift the stagnated transaction market we have been seeing,’ he added.