Despite the Chancellor saying that he was not going to consider an extension to the temporary Stamp Duty "holiday", the public appear to have taken matters into their own hands. Over 110,000 people have now signed a petition to have Parliament debate extending the SDLT holiday, backed by over 50 Tory MPs who have written to him. Ministers are due to debate this motion soon.
There are significant benefits to extending the holiday. The new lockdown has meant many buyers have not been able to view properties. Giving buyers some extra time to wait until it is safer and easier to view properties prevents people missing out on the holiday and buying a house because the pandemic made it impossible.
There is also already serious economic hardship and this has been made worse by the new and extended lockdown likely to continue into March. The new strains of the virus have made this pandemic hit harder than imagined. Extending the holiday is expected to keep the market active during an extremely tough period. Even tapering off the holiday might help ease the problem in an economically precarious time.
The Chancellor was emphatic on the extension in the Sun newspaper on the 15th January stating, “It undermines doing anything time-limited if you’re just going to extend it.” This however seems difficult for many to accept given the extensions to the furlough scheme which are far more expensive and the implications much further reaching than any SDLT holiday ever would be.
Voices calling for the Chancellor to think seriously about an extension now reach beyond industry experts. The debate and backbench response might make him think twice. A flexible and nuanced response to this pandemic and the impact on the property market is essential to limiting the damage it can cause.