Highlights of the 2016 Budget

George Osborne’s latest Budget was announced earlier this week and here are the highlights which will affect the residential property market.

From April 2017 anyone between the ages of 18 and 40 will be eligible for a Lifetime ISA. If saving the maximum of £4,000 a year, the government will provide an annual bonus of £1,000 up to the age of 50. There is no monthly maximum contribution, so savers can put away as little or as much as they choose up to the limit of £4,000 per year.

The money can be used to save for a deposit on a first home or to save for retirement. Those using the Lifetime ISA to buy property can spend up to £450,000 on a home, but they have to be first-time buyers. Savers can withdraw the money any time before turning 60 but the government bonus will be lost and a five per cent charge incurred.

The scheme may not be so appealing for those who already own a home because the cash needs to be tied-up until 60 to receive the bonus.

Savers who also have a Help to Buy ISA will be able to move their money into a Lifetime ISA. If they have both types, they can only use the bonus from one of them to buy a home. The Help to Buy ISA scheme is due to end in November 2019 and is less generous than the Lifetime ISA.

Since November there has been strong lobbying from those within the property industry that the proposed 3% stamp duty surcharge on buy-to-let homes should be abandoned to prevent suppressing transactions and prices.

George Osborne reconfirmed that the increase will not only go ahead as announced but will also affect large-scale investors despite a suggestion made in November that the rule would not apply to those with 15 properties or more.

The funds which will be raised from the stamp duty increase will go towards funding community building projects.

Capital gains tax was reduced from 28 per cent to 20 per cent and these changes will apply from 6th April. However, this move will not help landlords or those who own several properties because capital gains on residential property will still incur the existing tax rate. Capital gains tax applies to all residential property other than the main home.

This could act as a longer term dis-incentive to invest in residential property compared to other types of asset, which may put further pressure on the supply of private rented homes against the backdrop of rising demand and this could well put upward pressure on rents.