ALLIANCE Social Development Spokesperson, Eileen Bell MLA (North Down), has welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement that the is doubling the level at which house buyers pay stamp duty to £120,000.
Mrs Bell, also Alliance Deputy Leader, said the move would start to address problems surrounding the widening housing gap in Northern Ireland that is pricing first-time buyers out of the market. Last month, Mrs Bell said: “The Government should be considering ways of making it easier for young people to buy their first home, such as making the ceiling at which stamp duty is payable more in line with house inflation, rather than cost-of-living increases. Raising the threshold would mean many first-time buyers in Northern Ireland would not have to pay this tax.” (Feb. 28, later published in Belfast Telegraph)
Speaking today, Mrs Bell said: “This is a tough time for young people wanting to buy their first homes. The growth in prosperity in certain sections of society has not been matched at the lower end of the scale. As a result, we have an upwardly mobile population that is driving up house prices, making it harder for others to get on the bottom rung of the property ladder.
“This tends to badly affect those on benefits and young people on lower pay in our low-wage economy disproportionately.
“The Government’s move to double the threshold at which stamp duty is paid is a small step in the right direction. By raising the threshold as Alliance called for, it now means that many first-time buyers in Northern Ireland will not have to pay this extra tax.
“Alliance is committed to helping first-time house buyers get on the property ladder. As house prices here are mostly under the £120,000 threshold, this move will save young people buying their first home about £1,000.
“Clearly, there are still problems with high property prices in certain areas, particularly on the coast, pricing out local people, and despite repeated representations to MLAs and Direct Rule Ministers, no creative thinking, action or legislation has been initiated to deal with the situation.
“Alliance will continue to campaign for fairer house prices for all, and are pleased that at last the Government may be starting to listen to arguments.”