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Poll finds strong support for stamp duty reduction for downsizing

More than four in 10 adults aged 65 and over, some 44%, believe that the Government should be doing more to encourage downsizing, a new survey has found.

A stamp duty exemption for downsizers is the most popular solution and would result in 18% being more likely to move, equal to almost 2.2 million people, according to the YouGov poll for retirement developer and manager McCarthy & Stone.

Some seven million older people or 56% also think a stamp duty exemption would be beneficial to young families and first time buyers while 55% agree that stamp duty is putting older people off moving, equal to almost 6.6 million people.

It also found that 59% think the Government should encourage the development of more specialist retirement housing, while 52% would like them to encourage the development of more bungalows.

The cost of stamp duty for a £300,000 property for someone who is not a first time buyer and doesn’t own any other property is £5,000 and the firm suggests that as the property tax is also paid by other purchasers in the chain, it also restricts the wider market.

With 18% more likely to downsize if there was a stamp duty reduction, the move could help with some of the current challenges in the housing market overall, giving all kinds of people the incentive to move, the firm believes.

‘This research shows overwhelming support among older people for reforming stamp duty to encourage downsizing. This would help those over-65s who want to downsize but can’t and also release millions of homes suitable for young people and families. Plus it would provide a net benefit to the Treasury’s coffers from the increased numbers of housing transactions created,’ said John Tonkiss, chief executive of McCarthy & Stone.

McCarthy & Stone is calling on the Government to introduce a Help to Move package, which includes a stamp duty exemption for older people looking to downsize. It says this would not only allow over 65s to live in comfortable, safe accommodation more suited to their needs in later life, but also to free up existing housing stock that can be used by first time buyers and young families. It adds that the initial loss in tax income would be offset by additional stamp duty payments from the new chains created.