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#AS2014: What the papers say

IT’S FAIR TO SAY the announcement that drew the most attention from the national press was the decision to move Stamp Duty Land Tax to a progressive system from the previous “distorted” one.

It has largely been welcomed as a sensible move, with City AM noting it “will benefit the vast majority of home buyers”. The Telegraph, however, warned it led to the “panic-buying of high-end homes” as buyers fought to beat the midnight deadline which would allow them to choose which regime under which to complete.

The reformed SDLT drew support from across the political spectrum, with both the Mirror and the Daily Mail celebrating change to “one of the worst-designed taxes in Britain”.

The Mail was also effusive in its praise of the rise in the 40p threshold, which it claimed will “help the middle class” with an average saving of £172 per year.

Those benefiting from the rise would also benefit from the increase to the personal allowance, rising from £10,000 to £10,600 – £100 more than had been previously announced.

The Guardian and The Independent focused, though, on the level of public spending the statement heralds, which it says sees it drop as a percentage of GDP to levels not seen since the 1930s as George Osborne looks to move Britain back into the black.

“The plans… also presume the loss of a further one million public sector jobs by 2020, a renewed public sector pay squeeze and a further freeze on tax credits,” the Guardian reports.

For its part, the Evening Standard applauded the announcement of “root and branch” reform of the “prohibitive” business rates, which have been criticised for hitting bricks-and-mortar businesses harder than their online counterparts.

The chancellor capped next year’s annual business rate rise at 2% – something he had already done for this year – rather than raising it in line with inflation. A £1,000 discount to smaller businesses was also increased to £1,500.

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