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Today in politics: Stamp duty, right to rent and the benefits cap

Today we look at calls from a Tory Peer for stamp duty reform, calls for an update on right to rent guidance and the latest benefit cap figures.

Stamp duty reform

Baroness Mone (Conservative) has received a response to her written questions asking:

  • What plans the Government has to introduce new tax incentives in the next budget to support the UK housing market; and
  • What plans the Government has to reform (1) tax relating to the housing market, and (2) stamp duty, following Brexit.

Responding for the government, The Earl of Courtown (Treasury Spokesperson) said: 

“The government has already made substantial reforms to the taxation of housing. 

“At Autumn Statement 2014 the government reformed SDLT on residential properties, cutting the tax for 98 per cent of buyers who pay it, unless they are purchasing additional property. 

“At Autumn Budget 2017 the government went further and introduced an SDLT first-time buyer relief that means that 80 per cent of first-time buyers will not pay SDLT, and 95 per cent of first-time buyers who pay SDLT will benefit from the change.

“At the last election the government committed to introduce an SDLT surcharge on non-UK residents purchasing residential property in England and Northern Ireland. This aims to help control house price inflation and the money raised will be used to tackle rough sleeping.

“The government will announce further updates on all tax measures at the Budget, to be held on 11 March.”

MP wants right to rent update

Alex Norris MP (Labour, Nottingham North) has received a response to his written question asking what plans the Home Office has to update the:

  • Right to work checks and 
  • Right to rent document checks guidance to allow digital forms of identification to be accepted

 The Immigration Minister, Kevin Foster MP, responded: 

“When an individual undergoes a right to work or right to rent check, they are not just evidencing their identity, they must also demonstrate their entitlement to work or rent.

“The Home Office is transforming the way migrants demonstrate their immigration status and right to work and rent in the UK. 

“The digital online status checking service for employers conducting right to work checks was launched on 6 April 2018. 

“In January 2019, we amended secondary legislation and issued new guidance to employers which sets out how they can use the online service in complying with their responsibilities under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 on the prevention of illegal working.

“The Home Office is planning to launch an online digital right to rent status checking service to support landlords in conducting right to rent checks.

“The government is also working to develop proposals for a digital identity system that would enable people to prove their identity easily and securely, without the need to provide physical documents, and to meet the demands of the digital age.”

Benefits cap affects 77,000 households

The Department for Work and Pensions has published the latest statistics on households that have had their benefits capped between 15th April 2013 and November 2019. 

In total:

  • 77,000 households had their benefits capped: 37,000 had Housing Benefit capped and 40,000 had Universal Credit capped at November 2019.
  • 3,000 fewer households had their benefits capped: 6,600 (15%) fewer households had Housing Benefit capped, whilst 3,600 (10%) more households had Universal Credit capped at November 2019 compared to August 2019.
  • 290,000 households have been capped: 220,000 have had Housing Benefit capped and 77,000 have had Universal Credit capped at some point between April 2013 and November 2019.


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