Government denies plans for new stamp duty

Prime minister Tony Blair’s official spokesman said: ‘This has not been proposed by anyone who works for the government. It is in no way representative of policy. These matters are for the Treasury but this particular proposal is not being considered.’

The rebuff was for Department of Health chief economist Barry McCormick who is reported to have come up with the proposal as a means of encouraging mobility among homeowners.

He is quoted as having said the tax would counter the mobility-reducing effect of existing stamp duty because it would increase the longer a seller lived in a property – owners considering moving would move sooner to keep their liability down.

To proceed with such a tax on top of existing Stamp Duty, Brown would be open to the same widespread criticism as that facing art auction houses, who charge buyers and sellers commission.

Brown is, however, expected to act over soaring house prices in the South East in the Public Expenditure Review due to be published shortly, possibly by increasing funds available for social building to provide homes for nurses, teachers, firemen, policemen and other ‘essential’ public workers.

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