Home ownership was a key focus and the Chancellor aims to address this on a number of fronts in trying to achieve his very ambitious target of building 300,000 new homes per year by 2025 (a level that has only ever been reached once in the last 45 years – back in 1988). His range of measures will include a focus on “land-banking” by the large national builders together with his flagship tax announcement that first-time buyers will be exempt from Stamp Duty Land Tax where the property costs up to £300,000 (this will save up to £5,000 for a first-time buyer and help them fund their much needed deposit). This flagship measure will also extend to houses that cost up to £500,000 with the Stamp Duty Land Tax exemption applying to the first £300,000 of the purchase price.
There were very few tax changes for individuals and families, although improvements to the new Universal Credit (e.g. reducing the waiting time by one week) were very welcome.
From a business perspective there were a number of welcome measures, including an increase in the R&D tax credit from 11% to 12% as the government aims to drive forward improvements in productivity.
Small businesses will also be pleased with the freezing on fuel duties and improvements to the business rates system. However the proposed review of the VAT registration threshold of £85,000 is a slight cause for concern (with the Office of Tax Simplification recommending a threshold of only £20,000), although on a positive note there was a commitment that there will be no changes for at least 2 years – and as Harold Wilson once said, a week is a long time in politics and it is anyone’s guess who might be the Chancellor then!